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    Building Structure and Flexibility into Case Lesson Plans

    While spontaneity and fluidity are important hallmarks of case discussions, effective case discussion leaders always enter the classroom with a teaching plan. In this video, Julie Battilana discusses the key components of a case teaching plan and how to build flexibility into it. By structuring her plan around discussion blocks and key questions, she ensures that she can cover the most important concepts and issues in the case while letting students lead the conversation. 

    Using Boards to organize and structure class thinking

    Chalkboards may not be the most advanced instructional tool in today’s classroom, but they are very useful for tracking and organizing student comments on the fly. In this video, Julie Battilana describes how she enters each case discussion having already thought through how and where she will track her students’ comments on the nine chalkboards in her classroom. This planning reaps dividends for students who describe how they use notes on the boards to keep track of their classmates’ points of view and capture the key ideas and frameworks presented during class in...

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    Introducing frameworks to connect case specifics to broader concepts

    One reason students enjoy learning through the case method is that each case reads like a unique story. Cases typically present a case protagonist embedded in a complex environment and pressed to make a decision in the face of challenges and uncertainty. Though the details of the case give it depth and interest, instructors frequently introduce frameworks during case discussions. Frameworks build students’ understanding of the case at hand while helping them generalize case specifics into conceptual knowledge. In this video, Julie Battilana describes the “Agitator,...

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    Referring back to student comments as discussion touchstones

    Over the course of a 90-minute whole class discussion, it can be easy to forget what was said ten minutes ago, let alone an hour ago. In this video, Julie Battilana describes how she listens carefully to student comments and then refers back to them to highlight complementaries, acknowledge a disagreement, or emphasize a particularly insightful point. By strategically referring back to these discussion touchstones, Battilana helps students develop a mental model of the class conversation and its contours.

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    Engaging in extended dialogue with students

    Facilitating a strong case discussion involves not only asking students questions but carefully listening to their responses and following up. In this video, Julie Battilana describes how she frequently stays with a student after asking them a question and poses repeated follow-ups to ensure that both she and the rest of the class have fully understood the student’s thinking. Though being questioned by your professor may sound intimidating at first, Battilana uses this move to convey that she is deeply interested in and attentive to students’ ideas -- that she is “...

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    Probing student disagreement to achieve deeper understanding

    Cases are designed so that students synthesize complex information, analyze potential paths forward, and then take a stand on what the protagonist should do next. Throughout this process, students will likely disagree with each other. Rather than glossing over student disagreement, Julie Battilana describes how she highlights differences in opinion and then pushes the class to do additional analysis so they better understand why they disagree. Digging into these disagreements rather than shying away from them ultimately provides, Battilana explains, “a wonderful...

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    Using movement to increase intimacy, energy, and visibility

    Keeping students engaged in a large, lengthy class is challenging for any instructor. To help her students stay interested and focused, Julie Battilana channels her vigorous and infectious enthusiasm into each class session. In this video, Battilana describes how she uses movement to keep the class energy high, to connect personally with students, and to ensure that no students stay off her radar in class. The result is a non-stop, energetic case session that flies by for her students.

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    Tracking student participation to ensure all students contribute

    In a fast-paced case discussion, it can be easy to lose track of the students who have not recently spoken up. In order to make sure that all students’ voices are heard in her classroom, Julie Battilana tracks student participation and then looks for the hands of students who have not spoken in the past three classes. To support students who may feel less confident speaking up in class, she also employs “warm calls,” giving students a heads up that she is going to call on them later in class. These strategies ensure that by the end of the course, all students have...

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