We've hit the shorter days of November and we've all seen it in our classes: attendance drop-offs, falling behind in the reading that turns to not doing the reading, and even our better students becoming a little complacent. It's time for a little pick-me-up that provides a bit of a reminder that we haven't been just doing the same thing for weeks on end. A little bright memory that carries the course into Thanksgiving break in a couple of weeks and after that the rush to finals. So does anyone have anything special they do at this point to reinvigorate a course?
One of the things I've done in the past is a quick midterm evaluation (though usually earlier in the semester and I completely spaced on doing them this semester). I have a midterm evaluation form which is probably too comprehensive, but part of the form asks students to distribute 10 points into what kinds of different activities we should do in class (so half lecture, half discussion would put 5 points in the "lecture" box and 5 points in "discussion" box) and that part is easily done even without a form. I usually average it out across all the forms and change course if necessary. Another thing I've tried in past logic courses is "fallacy jeopardy", made possible with a couple of Powerpoint presentations that really do work like the Jeopardy board. Finally, in my more applied courses, I try to go a little more into theory and some of the deeper questions to remind students that there's a lot under the surface. In my less applied courses, I try to take a break from the official narrative of the course and spend a course applying old, dead philosophers to recent events. (I try to do this anyway, but these are more sustained lessons that can take all or half of the class period.)
Anybody else have anything they do to perk up a November classroom?