Diamond Classrooms Week wrap-up

Diamond Classrooms Week sticky notes

Earlier this month Temple’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching inaugurated Diamond Classrooms Week, in which our best instructors opened up their classrooms to colleagues for peer observation. With over a hundred visits to over eighty classrooms, the Diamond Classrooms Week project is off to a great start. Watch for our announcement about the next Diamond Classrooms Week in the fall!


At our end-of-the-week reception, we asked visitors to share their experiences by placing sticky notes on any of six different boards, each with a different theme. Below are a selection of the best notes for each of the themes. Obviously a sticky note can’t capture a complete experience, but we hope that these tidbits will provide some food for thought.


Classroom Management Techniques

  • Strategic seating arrangement
  • Identifying one-on-one discussions to save for office hours
  • Doing exercises in a Lecture Hall with more than 150 students
  • Intentionally directing groups in lab to make a plan for getting the work done in the allotted time


Technology for Student Learning

  • Canvas Quizzes in class
  • PollEverywhere to assess understanding of difficult concepts
  • Used Tableau.com, a data visualization tool
  • Effective incorporation of podcasts relevant to course objectives


Creating an Inclusive Environment

  • Main takeaways from class readings posted on the board to encourage class dialogue
  • Engaging stories of inclusion
  • Inviting students who don’t speak much to read slides aloud
  • Encouraging multiple forms of participation
  • Group activity - engaged students that had not previously participated


Engaging/Motivating Students

  • Students were working in groups to plan logistics for a networking event (which they will run)
  • In the lecture, passed out 3-D glasses & demonstrated principles of frequency and wavelength. Very cool - brought principles to life
  • Asked “What’s your strategy for solving this problem?”
  • Instructor used pop science & clickbait to teach real science
  • Started w/ an outline and a “You are here” bubble on the outline slide. Then connected last week’s classes to what they were about to do
  • Provided skeleton concept map. Did a think/pair/share and then brainstormed together how these concepts are related


I’d Like to Learn More About…

  • Keeping a full lecture hall interested and engaged
  • How to teach a large cross-section of students: different ages, majors, & abilities. How does one create a course that works for a large diverse group
  • Problematic narratives, particularly in science


This Surprised Me!

  • Students worked more diligently when content became more challenging
  • Used Bloom’s Taxonomy to explain learning objectives for the course!
  • Helping students put language to their instinctive hand motions during critique (visual art)
  • Give quiz questions in advance, only subject (data) is missing
  • How little the instructor spoke - acting more as a mediator for a spirited student-led discussion


Clearly a lot of faculty saw interesting things happening in Temple classrooms! If you missed this year’s Diamond Classrooms Week, don’t fret. It will be back next year, hopefully with even more classes for instructors to visit. In the meantime, consider asking a colleague if you can sit in on a class they teach. It’s a great way to broaden one’s view of the infinite possibilities of teaching!

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