View Full Version : CFI- ideas for spicing up my lectures

1st Sep 2009, 12:16
Iíll be going for the CFI practical test in about a month. During preparation, one of my instructorís recurring criticisms has been the lack of spice in my lectures. Specifically, I need some interesting/entertaining ways to teach basic principles. For example, the blowing of air over the top of a piece of paper to demonstrate Bernoulliís principle.

Also if you can remember any part of your training that left a particular impression I would be all ears. Iím specifically looking for anecdotes or anything that helped achieve a jump in learning or understand a difficult concept.

Lastly, I have a few die-cast model planes that I use for teaching. But what I really need is a sturdy model airplane with moveable control surfaces. I would be grateful if someone could point me in the right direction.

Thanks everyone.

Runaway Gun
2nd Sep 2009, 06:53
Have you considered giving a couple of practise lectures to a friend (if that's not too cruel) and videotaping your performance? Then go home and watch those same lectures that you just gave, and analyse it from a different point of view. Take notes. Maybe watch them each twice....

2nd Sep 2009, 12:31
Why not buy a proper radio controlled model plane!

Make sure you are not crashing it infront of students though :hmm:

2nd Sep 2009, 13:10
I know Pooleys (A UK company) used to make a model with controlable, movable ailerons, elevator, rudder and flaps.

I'm sure there will be something similar in the US somewhere, can your instructor or school not recommend somewhere? Sportys per chance?

Big Pistons Forever
2nd Sep 2009, 16:10
Holding a kitchen spatula under a stream of running water is a a great way to illustrate angle of attack and the stall

2nd Sep 2009, 16:50
Very handy indeed! If you have a spatula...and have the lecture in a kitchen.

Big Pistons Forever
2nd Sep 2009, 17:34
North Rider

I contributed a time ex'd spatula to my local flying school and I give my 3 min demonstation using the sink in the bathroom. Rather than poking fun at my suggestion you could actually provide an example of a technique you use .....
Oh wait that would require crafting a constructive post:rolleyes:

2nd Sep 2009, 19:51
After 30 years teaching for a living, I think the secret is to switch perspectives.

To start with you think, "What do I need to tell this audience?"

Once it clicks, you ask "What do they need to know to understand what I'm trying to teach?"

To find this out, you need to ask questions of your audience - for example, "Who knows what the rudder does?" The answers tell you what you need to say next - and in this case, assuming they think the rudder turns the aircraft, it's not enough just to say "No, it doesn't (much)", though even this interchange is more effective than making a plain statement, "The rudder does not turn the aircraft". If I were teaching this, I might follow up with a video clip of someone side-slipping, so they can see that the aircraft is flying in a different direction to the way the nose is pointing (thus proving my assertion), and then refer back to something they already know (wings produce lift) and asking them what happens if we tilt the wings; and from there, you're off.

This has the advantage of making your presentations interactive, and thus far more interesting than straight presentations of information.

It also means that, if you use slides, you can't put all the information on the slides (because you don't know exactly where you're going next). This is also a good thing, because the dullest possible presentations are where the lecturer reads what's on the slides - if the audience can read, they've got there ages ago, and if they can't read, why bother showing the slide? A slide is only a structure for what you need to cover, so you know the next point you're heading towards. In a two-hour lecture, I never use more than 20 slides which are mainly text. Add in images and video to create variety, and create contrast (a cartoon duck might be more effective than a picture of a Cessna if you want to talk through control surfaces, for example).

Anecdotes can work if they are connected closely to your talk - peraonal experience ("and then the tailplane fell off") is always more effective than a story aboout someone else. These need to fit into you narrative in a natural way - if you have a prepared anecdote, and the audience can see you leading up to it, it loses all its force. It needs to look like something that has just popped into your head.

But, the most important thing is to ask what the audience needs to know, and use that to structure what you are trying to teach them.

Runaway Gun
3rd Sep 2009, 00:42
"And then the tailplane fell off" ????

You got MY attention :ok:

Beats my "there I was 2 mins late over my reporting point" story of excellence.

4th Sep 2009, 13:08
This is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. It's a great practical example of a complex abstract concept. And no wind tunnel required. Bravo.

I even found a youtube vid:

YouTube - Aerodynamics of a stall (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAko5ZfChII)

8th Sep 2009, 13:19
You could have seen the the funny side of my comment but that would require a sence of humour:) No seriously...both my previous post as well as this one where not ment to be taken seriously, but I guess you lose something in translation and non verbal communication. No offence ment.

Back to topic. I use youtube a lot. There are a lot of very good and informative clips on allmost all sudjects. Some times I just show some funny clip to help with the monotony. Some material on youtube maybe copyrigthed but I think it is not me committing the crime, it is the person uploading it. I could allso get around the issue by not showing the material in class but only telling the students to have a look at it themselves, in wich case maby olny half actually would...

8th Sep 2009, 15:06
Interesting discussion - personally I didn't want any 'spice' when being instructed in flying training. Much better to have an instructor you have confidence in and respect for, and that know their stuff.

If it can be 'spiced up' as well and not distract from the basic lesson, then fair enough. I've come across a couple of instructors in the past who have played the 'wise guy' and had to make a joke of everything - I just wanted to throttle them and tell them to cut the crap.

9th Sep 2009, 12:36
"Interesting discussion - personally I didn't want any 'spice' when being instructed in flying training. Much better to have an instructor you have confidence in and respect for, and that know their stuff."

Parson, you make it sound like the two are mutually exclusive. Obviously everyone's experience is different, but it has been shown that instructional aids & practical demonstrations of abstract concepts accelerate the learning process for the majority of students.

9th Sep 2009, 12:54
Yes, perhaps I was a little harsh and it was not aimed at instructional aids per se which are of course very useful.

Took the original comment to be implying that the instructional technique was boring and needed jazzing up etc. Thankfully all the instructors I've ever had on a regular basis have been first rate, but I've come across a few (one-off check filghts etc.) who were not interested in whether I could fly or not and were out for a laugh and a joke. A good balance is required for professional instruction, but I'm probably drifting off topic now.