The major kinks are these: all three of my classes are going to take place in class periods longer than those I've taught before, and at least one of them is also going to have significantly more students.
Two of my classes will meet twice a week, for an hour and a half each. In the past, my two-day-a-week classes have met for either an hour and fifteen, or an hour and twenty minutes. To my mind, that extra 10-15 minutes is a big deal when we're talking attention span and sleep prevention, and it means that I need to think seriously about mixing things up every single class period. This should be easy to do in my comp class, since a) it's a small seminar, and b) the nature of the class makes it natural to do a lot of different things in a single period--discuss the readings, outline their arguments, freewrite, workshop, whatever.
However, I'm a little concerned about my 2-day-a-week lit class, which will have 40 students in it. I've always done group activities in my literature classes, sure, but not every class period--and I've never before had a class larger than 30. A class of 40 students works out to 8 or 10 groups, which makes it awfully unweildy to do the kind of group work that I normally assign, wherein I have each group look at a particular passage or poem or character or whatever, do essentially the same thing to it (paraphrase a sonnet and identify as many poetic devices as possible, say, or answer a set series of questions about a character or event), and then present their findings to the class so that we can draw some larger conclusions, collectively, from their work.
Even more problematic is my third class. It's also a lit class, but since it's required for the English major, Regional U always offers it once a year in a 3-hour, one-day-a-week evening version. Guess who's teaching that particular version this year?
People, I have NO idea how to teach a 3-hour, survey-level undergraduate class--other than to make sure that I have a 15-minute break in the middle and that I do a whole bunch of different shit every period in order to keep us all awake: reading quiz, group work, board work, video clips, and mini-performances are things that spring to mind. But what does that mean, practically? How does one do all those things in a way that feels organic, and not as if one's just ordering them off the menu at random? (First course--a quiz! Second course--10 minute mini-lecture! Third course--call students up to the front of the room to read! Fourth course--split them up into groups! And for dessert--a 20-minute video!) And is there any way that I can make it more likely that my students will have actually done all or most of the reading by classtime?
What I'm looking for, I guess, is advice on a couple of different fronts:
First: successful ways of incorporating group activities into a larger class, especially on a regular, possibly daily basis.Anyone want to hook a sister up?
Second: any non-group-based ways that you've found work well for breaking up the usual discussion/lecture format. (In the past, the major one I've used is collective board work of a brainstorming variety, where my students call out words or ideas and I list them in such a way that significant patterns emerge.)
Third: I'd really, really love to hear from anyone who has taught a 2.5- or 3-hour, lower-level class before (I'm expecting to have 25 or 30 students).