Today’s Assignment: Create an Organized and Productive Classroom

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Today’s Assignment: Create an Organized and Productive Classroom


As an adjunct instructor I teach evening Criminal Justice classes at Palm Beach Community College in Lake Worth, Florida. My students work all day, run home to care for families, then rush over to listen to me for an entire evening, twice a week. I can’t just stand there for three hours and forty-five minutes. My presentation has to be dynamic. It has to shift and flash from lecture to media to discussion; from a humorous anecdote to a tragic story; from ironic and oblique to plain-spoken and explicit. My material needs references and allusions to the real world and to today’s events. I am constantly searching for metaphors and analogies to trigger that moment of recognition. I have to try to engage the students – all evening.

I use Apple’s Keynote to create more dynamic presentations for my students. I incorporate slides of relevant YouTube and movie clips that serve as a sort of didactic comic relief. I find sound effect emphasis and musical transitions. I make references to sources of deeper human drama such as the stories from Barry Scheck’s Innocence Project and even the New York Times Sunday Magazine. I also use court documents, verdict forms, jury instructions, and images to enhance my core course material.

I find myself needing perpetual updates and fresh material. In an era that has been called “a state of information overload,” I have a limited time to research ideas to prepare and update lectures. The library has not been supplanted by the internet, but the internet is multi-media ready. ScanSnap gives me the ability to not only convert my hard-copy library research to digital, but also to index, search, and retrieve my clippings and book excerpts. In addition to lecture presentation preparation using the ScanSnap, I can also sit in my office with my pile of library research and exam review materials, drop them into the scanner and immediately send out PDF email attachments giving my students ample time to prepare for and participate in my next lecture. I would say that without a ScanSnap scanner, my presentations would be a mess right now and my students less prepared for their Criminal Justice careers.

Mark Jones
Adjunct Instructor
Palm Beach Community College