Mizelle, Corcoran Department of History
a means to seize the student's attention, focus the student on the key
thematic issues for the class, and outline the lecture and discussion.
With the use of a word processor, scanner, and laser printer, educators
can create more interesting handouts, slides, and presentations in only
a short time. As a TA in UVa's History Department, I used handouts/worksheets
as the central tool for organizing my thoughts, preparing for class, and
guiding discussion. They also served as auxiliary notes and an instant
study guide for my students.
To gain the
student's attention, I designed my handouts to be as aesthetically pleasing
as possible, creating something on the lines of the user-friendly USA
Today style. As in a newspaper, each handout displayed the same heading,
complete with course title and graphics. For example, for the Soviet history
course each handout included a picture of the hammer and sickle as a "signature"
image. Within the title block, I identified the main theme of the handout
and dated them to allow the student to keep track of his/her handouts
- very helpful when a student asks for a replacement copy.
title block, each sheet was comprised of three sections: the body, listing
of key words, and a "Quote of the Day" box. The body focused
on the main thematic issue for discussion. I used a variety of styles
to present the issues in an innovative way, using matrixes, outlines,
lines, and boxes. Additionally, I used graphic images, scanned from books
or photographs, to catch the student's eye. The ease of varying font type
and size provided by the PC allowed me to distinguish between major points
and secondary issues. This method of formatting gave me options for leading
discussion; I could either "build up" from the subordinate issues
or "work down" from the major points.
included a list of 12-20 key words or phrases, usually compiled from the
week's readings and lectures. I picked those terms that would best serve
as building blocks for the larger, thematic issues. The students used
these lists to prepare for discussion and to guide their readings. Most
defined each term on the sheet itself and later used them as study aids.
To differentiate the "key words" list from the main body, I
formatted it in a different, somewhat smaller font.
To add a taste of
humor, each sheet had a "Quote of the Day" box, filled with
a witticism, comment or saying from various people across history. They
were intended to tie historical issues to the present day. I used quotes
from a wide range of characters, from Nicholas II to Mick Jagger, as well
as cartoons, pictures, and other graphics.
the three sections, I could alter the appearance of each sheet to add
variety and to emphasize certain aspects. At least once, I printed
the sheet length-wise, creating a wider space for information and a totally
different "perspective" for the students. The ultimate purpose
of arrangement was to grab the student's attention and focus it on the
the most surprising factor in creating more innovative handouts is the
ease in which it can be done. Teachers at UVa have access to scanners
at a variety of locations (including the Multimedia Resource Center in
Wilson Hall and the Medical School Library) that can capture images from
page to screen in just a few minutes. Word processing programs, such as
Microsoft WordTM or Word PerfectTM, can import images, create graphs or
charts, and allow a wide variety of printing format options. After a few
test runs, I found that I could convert my notes into a well-organized
handout in about 30 minutes. In an environment of many distractions, a
more interesting handout can pull in a student and direct her/his attention