Pedagogy Playground

Innovative Teaching in Higher Education

by Lindsey Passenger Wieck, Ph.D.About This Site

Pedagogy Playground curates resources to facilitate innovative pedagogy and student engagement in higher education. This site helps educators build a toolbox of teaching methods while facilitating joyful experimentation in the classroom.

I’ve always been interested in pedagogy and experimentation in the classroom, but in my first year teaching full-time, I forgot to have fun. This led to stale patterns of reusing the same types of activities. As I started to mix things up again, I realized that having fun and experimenting with new pedagogical techniques makes me and my students happier. Having a bag of tricks keeps my teaching fresh and engaging, and so with this site, I hope to help others try new teaching strategies and have more fun trying new things in the classroom. As you start to build a toolbox of methods you love, you can treat them like Legos, interchangeable units that you can build together to create dynamic and varied lessons.

On this site, I also curate resources on pedagogical topics and issues in higher education, offering short reflections and book reviews. I will also share curated lists of interdisciplinary resources for integrating current events into the university classroom. While my expertise lies in the humanities (in history, specifically), I seek examples relevant to a range of disciplines. I encourage you to leave your own experiences and examples in the comments.

Pedagogy Playground

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recent posts

people discussing notes in notebook

Becoming Better Notetakers

I remember early in my Ph.D. program I was frustrated with a dissertation chapter I was writing. I went with my intuition and produced a giant concept map of what I wanted to say. I finished the diagram with a sigh of relief — the chapter made sense now. But I still felt guilty like I was doing something wrong. Real writers didn’t use concept maps, right? I’m not sure anyone ever taught me how to take notes productively, certainly not after elementary/middle school, and I still struggle with notetaking today. I’m a chronic over-highlighter, and I have a hardContinue readingBecoming Better Notetakers

hands stacked in a circle "bringing it in"

Participate, PLEASEEEE

You know that all-too-familiar silence after asking a question in the classroom, where you are just pleading with someone, anyone to respond? Yeah, me too. It especially bugs me when I KNOW students have prepared for class and have things to say. I’ve always aimed to have every student speak in some way in every class, even if it’s just with a partner, and here are a few tricks I use to boost engagement in smaller classes (classes under 30 students) Stand up, sit down: For a question that has speedy answers (think: brainstorming a list), ask the class toContinue readingParticipate, PLEASEEEE

Logo that reads "Decolonize your Syllabus"

Beyond Black History Month: Decolonize your Syllabus

I love that Black History month brings attention work done by people of color, including sources they’ve written and stories created detailing their rich and complicated histories. However, integrating writing by and about Black folks cannot be contained within a single month of the year. As educators, we need to incorporate writing and scholarship by people of color throughout the year in our classrooms. Inspired by Gwendolyn Rosemond, who’s shared links about Black history and culture regularly in a facebook group I’m in, I gathered some of these resources to help us do this kind of work. From discussing BlackContinue readingBeyond Black History Month: Decolonize your Syllabus

people annotating a document

Annotating Readings with Hypothesis

In my classes, I like employing strategies that promote deep reading. I started using Hypothesis in one of my graduate classes this semester to help students connect with concrete quotes from the text while also analyzing and reflecting on them. This system has the additional benefit of holding students accountable to engaging with the assigned readings. Annotating with hypothesis also offers a social component, one that extends the discussion of course materials outside of the classroom. Mia C. Zamora, an Associate Professor of English and Director of the Kean University Writing Project, explains that tools like Hypothesis “extend the discursiveContinue readingAnnotating Readings with Hypothesis

hands piecing together puzzle pieces

Small Changes, Big Impact

I’ve long been a huge fan of James Lang‘s since I read his book Small Teaching in a book group a few years ago. He calls us to make small changes to our teaching, one change at a time, rather than feeling obligated to overturn our syllabi and start anew. This practical approach of learning tools and tricks that I can implement immediately at any point in the semester has been fundamental to my thinking about pedagogy. Lang regularly writes for The Chronicle, and one of my favorite pieces is “Small Changes in Teaching: Making Connections.” In this piece, Lang articulates theContinue readingSmall Changes, Big Impact

Person reading visual data on a tablet

Infographics

As we are inundated with data via infographics and other visualizations, it is essential that students learn to read and analyze these types of visual communication. Analyzing sample infographics in your field and introducing students to Randy Olsen’s “Infographics Lie. Here’s How To Spot The B.S” can help students critically engage with these types of visualizations while developing important visual literacy skills. I love using assignments that ask students create real world products, not only because it provides them the opportunity to develop valuable life skills, but also because it allows them to communicate with audiences beyond our classroom. Asking studentsContinue readingInfographics

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