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Best Practices: "Finding The Core Of The Idea"

In Made to Stick (2007) Chip and Dan Heath demonstrate that the key to making an idea stick—i.e., understood, remembered, and having a lasting impact—is to keep it simple by “finding the core of the idea.” Through an analysis of advertising and political campaigns, the Heaths essentially support Nosich’s “fundamental and powerful concepts” idea. The Heaths’ insight is applicable to education, as I recently discovered when I was asked to teach an American Literature I class (a course I have taught many times) for a colleague. Taking over someone else’s class is always daunting because the guest lecturer doesn’t know the students—what they have learned so far, what has been stressed, or even the usual class format. Before guest facilitating a discussion on Poe’s “The Purloined Letter,” I determined in a brief discussion with my colleague what we considered the course core: literary conventions. I then made the class C.R.I.S.P. by contextualizing the concept of conventions, reviewing what conventions the class had covered recently (i.e., the Gothic), iterating the conventions of the detective story as found in “The Purloined Letter,” summarizing these conventions toward the end of the session, and previewing the material for their next class: Hawthorne’s use of another set of conventions, those belonging to the Romance.

The result was a 50-minute session that unified that class, previous classes, and future classes, thus increasing the chances for student learning.

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More Issues of the Advocate

  • anc_dyn_linksApril 2010
  • anc_dyn_linksDecember 2009
  • anc_dyn_linksOctober 2009
  • anc_dyn_linksJune 2009
  • anc_dyn_linksApril 2009
  • anc_dyn_linksSpecial Salary Issue 2009
  • anc_dyn_linksFebruary 2009
  • anc_dyn_linksDecember 2008
  • anc_dyn_linksOctober 2008
  • anc_dyn_linksJune 2008
  • anc_dyn_linksSpecial Salary Issue 2008
  • anc_dyn_linksApril 2008
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Thriving In Academe

  • anc_dyn_linksKeeping Your Classroom C.R.I.S.P.
  • anc_dyn_linksTales from Real Life: Searching for Answers
  • anc_dyn_linksKeeping Your Class C.R.I.S.P. - A Refresher Course
  • anc_dyn_linksBest Practices: "Finding The Core Of The Idea"
  • anc_dyn_linksIssues to Consider: Overcoming Common Problems
  • anc_dyn_linksReferences & Resources