“Name one interesting thing that you noticed today”

Carol A. Hand

The research class I teach class meets every other week for 2 hours on Saturdays. During the intervening weeks, students have online activities and assignments to complete. That may sound easy, but it’s actually quite challenging. Establishing and maintaining interpersonal connections, building meaningful online content, and creating and grading strategically-designed sequential assignments, are thought-provoking, time-intensive jobs.


Class Assignment Diagram


We begin our face to face classes with a check-in. The first question has already become a ritual. “Name one interesting thing that you noticed today.”

Students are now eager to share as soon as the Power Point slide appears. “I knew you were going to ask us that today, so I made it a point to pay attention and notice things this morning!

Hearing that is music to my heart!

It’s so important to listen to the different perspectives around the room as we reconnect with each other after the weeks we spent living our everyday lives in different places. Building meaningful connections with others and “doing re-search” both require attentive presence. Noticing what’s around us is a necessary first step. Listening intently to other views in order to expand our understanding of the world is the second.

Being witness to these “processes of practicing presence” is a precious gift. I’m so grateful for the students and colleagues who make it possible.


25 thoughts on ““Name one interesting thing that you noticed today”

    1. I like it, too, Diane. I wish I could say I chose this opening on purpose, but it just flowed out of my fingers as I typed up the class Power Point a few weeks ago. I didn’t realize how perfect it was until yesterday when students were so eager to let me know they had noticed their feelings and surroundings.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your insightful comments, Bernadette. I wish I could claim credit for being purposeful in my choice the first morning I typed out an agenda for our class check-in. I was simply blessed with creative, responsive students. 🙂


    1. I appreciate your perspective a great deal USF Man. As an educator, I know you’re familiar with the challenges of crafting methods to engage students. This year, students will be focusing on the general topic of “safe shelter” for vulnerable groups within the context of healthy, inclusive communities. I didn’t realize at the time when I decided on the focus that safe shelter would become such a crucial issue in the U.S. Hurricanes and wildfires have heightened many peoples’ awareness about our collective vulnerability and our need to be better prepared in the future. Hopefully the focus this semester will inspire students to critically about necessary future alternatives.


  1. When I began my gratitude journal many years ago, it had the same effect of making me take notice because I knew I would have to write down at least 5 things for which I was grateful (later expanded to 10!) It is a useful exercise and certainly makes us more present and mindful instead of wandering through our days aimlessly, just to get to the end where we can switch on the tv or pour a glass of wine. Great idea for your students 👌🏻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chris, a gratitude journal is such a fascinating way to focus your daily attention. It sounds like it works wonders. Thank you for sharing this and for your thoughtful comments. 🙂


  2. Here’s an interesting thing that happened to me: I gave a dollar to a man who was begging on the street and he bitterly complained when I didn’t give him more. Then, while eating lunch, I gave a few crumbs from a granola bar to some birds and they gratefully ate in peace.

    Well, I don’t know, it seemed interesting at the time. 😆

    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

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