The one-minute tool that helped a Miami professor get through to her students

In Lourdes Albo-Beyda’s class, understanding her grammar and writing lessons is about more than a letter grade. It’s about a better future for her students.

The veteran instructor, who began her teaching career in Cuba, teaches at Miami Dade College and English is the second language for most of her students.

“Most of them are going to become American citizens,” said Albo-Beyda. “That is why it is so important for them to not only learn the language, but learn the structure and usage of the language.”

When Albo-Beyda began taking ACUE’s Course in Effective Teaching Practices, which Miami Dade College offered to faculty this fall, she immediately learned new techniques to use in the classroom.

An opportunity came up after she’d completed ACUE’s Checking for Student Understanding module. After a lesson on the proper usage of verb tenses, she gave her class an exercise called a “one-minute paper,” which she’d learned about in her ACUE coursework.

Albo-Beyda asked her students to jot down answers to two questions about the day’s lesson: What is the most important thing I learned in class? What questions do I still have?

The technique provides rapid feedback on whether the teacher’s main idea is the same as what students perceived it to be. It also shows a student that teachers are concerned with their learning.

“I went home and read all of their answers,” Albo-Beyda said. “A lot wanted to know more about how to use these verb tenses to communicate more accurately in real-life settings.”

At the next class, Albo-Beyda brought in newspaper articles with sentences she had underlined to highlight the verb tenses her students wanted to know more about. She split them into small groups to identify the tenses and then discusses the answers.

“It was very simple,” Albo-Beyda said, “but it worked.”

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