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Small class sizes

What are some of the challenges that you face with ultra-small class sizes (e.g. 2-4 students) and what techniques have you developed to cope with these unique challenges?

I have contests to keep then interested. I have a no-hair contest where they must bring something from Home to creaate hair . For instance, feathers, beads, yarn , anything they want. I had one girl use a head of endive adding tomatoes and broccoli and it was the winner. I keep a goodie bag so the winners can pick something from it.  I also have a create roller wrap using anything but rollers. I should add that i get the styrofoam heads for them for the no-hair.

That is a great way to keep the students engaged and competive.

The largest class I've had so far for college math is seven students! One way I promote discussion is to put them in groups of 3 or 4 students and have them work a problem set together with the following rules:

1) Put your name on your own paper.

2) Complete the first problem on your own paper. When finished put your pencil down and wait for everyone in the group to finish.

3) Once everyone has finished, compare answers. If there is disagreement, work together to resolve the differences, clarify understanding, and decide on a final method to solve the problem. If a consensus cannot be met after discussion, a group spokesperson may signal the instructor for involvment in the discussion. Everyone then completes the problem and initials it.

4) Pass your paper to the person on your left. Complete the next problem on the paper handed to you. Repeat steps 2 - 4 until all problems are complete or time is up.

5) Retrieve your own paper when finished so you have a completed set of problems for reference or study.

This method not only promotes discussion, students cannot work ahead (thus isolating themselves from the group) because they must wait to do the next problem on the paper that will be passed to them. Better/faster students can assist struggling students if they choose to and conversely, struggling students can ask a member of the group for help or choose to wait until the discussion. Students love this method of problem solving and find it non-threatening.

@bettylong : Well that sounds fun. Good dea

@YOSCHR0409 :

I perfer bigger classes, small classes can be doring and time will move very slowly. I had a class with 3-4 students and I didn't like it. Class was boring, on the other hand, when there is one teacher and thirty students, that is also bad.

@mjhughes : i like this idea. Students discuss before passing paper & feel a sense of collaboration rather than competition. Competition doesn't provide good atmosphere.

In small classes I found myself having the students work together quite often and help each other. I tried to point out strengths and weaknesses that they could use or learn from to benefit in the class.

@YOSCHR0409 : With small classes you really have to be very creative to keep not only the students attention...and the instructors attention level...especially with the evening classes

@YOSCHR0409 :Small classes i find more enjoyable because u can easily give them want they need in a way they can deal with it. If labs and demo's work best do-it . The more one on one you can create the more u can do! Adapt to the the situation and have fun with it.

@mjhughes : I love that idea and will definatly try it!!

@YOSCHR0409 : I don't see any challenges of handling a small online class of 2-4 students especially when my classes involve writing. My biggest challenge is when the classes are 10+ and I have to deal with loads of written assignments to grade (including the discussions).

I think that the smaller the group, the greater the opportunity to tap into areas of the lesson that are not covered or to be able to expand our communications into other areas of the subject matter.    

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