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21. Fill-In the Gaps (Cloze Passages)

Definition

A simple teaching strategy that involves asking students to fill-in an incomplete piece of text. This can happen verbally (starting a paragraph and asking students to complete it) and in writing (a traditional cloze passage).

Benefits

  • Helps students to jog their own memories by prompting them slightly.
  • Enables teachers to quickly assess students’ knowledge (just-in-time assessment).

Challenges

  • Cannot be a consistently used strategy as students also need to learn through more challenging approaches such as discovery learning and project-based learning.

Examples

  1. Paper cloze passages involving a story in which the key phrases are removed.
  2. Prompting questions like: “Can you finish this sentence? The first king of England was …”

22. Peer Assisted Learning (PAL)

Definition

Has the teacher step aside and allows students to take charge of the learning environment. 

Benefits

  • Students can often explain concepts to one another in a clear way because they’re on the same level and closer in their learning journey than the teacher, who probably learned the content years ago!

Challenges

  • Peer assisted learning is not the same as the students doing the teaching. Students should continue to view each others as partners in learning.

Theoretical Link

Socio-Cultural Theory: students learning through collaborative discussion fits firmly into the sociocultural theory of education.

Example

  1. Invite students from a grade level above to come into the classroom and act as moderators of discussions on topics of interest.
  2. Pair stronger students with weaker students. Have the stronger students demonstrate their knowledge by supporting the weaker students. I find this works really well because children can often explain things in a clear language that other children can understand.

23. Poster Presentations

Definition

A poster presentation is a great way to demonstrate knowledge at the end of a lesson or unit of work. Provide the students with posters, pens, and printing materials if required. 

Benefits

  • A fast, effective way of presenting knowledge to the class.
  • Allows students to practice demonstration skills.
  • Ends up with a physical product that can be photographed and added to the student’s portfolio to prove that outcomes have been met.

Challenges

  • Can be a lazy way to achieve presentation of knowledge. Ensure the focus remains on the content and not the coloring-in or drawing pretty pictures.
  • Not useful for all lessons: when students can create a working model, diagram, etc. this would be preferred.

Example

  1. Have students work in groups to write up their knowledge in a visually engaging way. 
  2. Then, have each group verbally present their poster to the class.

24. Two-Minute Presentation

Definition

Two Minute verbal presentations, like posters, are an effective way of having students demonstrate their knowledge at the end of a lesson or unit of work. Each student gets two minutes to present their knowledge on a topic to the rest of the class.

Benefits

  • An effective, fast way of doing summative assessment.

Challenges

  • It is an inefficient use of other students’ time having them listen to 20 other two-minute presentations when they could be engaging in higher-order learning during that time. Students find it very boring and frustrating to sit through the assessment of other students.

Example

  1. Use the two-minute presentation method for the final lesson in a series of lessons on one topic.
  2. Have students read over their notes from previous classes and write a summary of the top 10 points.
  3. Have students prepare their two-minute presentations by adding the notes to palm cards. With 10 points, students have about 12 second per point!
  4. Ensure students have time to practice with one another and instruct them on how to take additional notes on their palm cards for points they forgot during practice.
  5. If each student has a different topic or angle to present engagement may be enhanced during the class presentations.

25. De Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats

Definition

De Bono’s 6 thinking hats strategy asks students to look at an issue from multiple perspectives. It can be used for groups or individuals. Depending on the hat a student is provided, they have to think from a different perspective.

The Six Hats

  1. White hat: Provide the facts.
  2. Yellow hat: Explore the positives.
  3. Black hat: Explore the negatives (devil’s advocate).
  4. Red hat: Express your feelings and intuitions. Include concerns, dislikes and likes.
  5. Green hat: Be creative. Come up with new ideas and alternatives.
  6. Blue hat: The manager who ensures all the hats are sticking to their lane.

Benefits

  • Helps students to think outside of their own perspectives.
  • Encourages students to attack an issue from many different angles.
  • Teachers group work skills if used in a group.

Challenges

  • I often find it’s hard to get groups of 6, so sometimes one student has to use two hats.

Example

  1. Introduce a contentious topic with a video or reading.
  2. Distribute hats to the students. 
  3. Have students spend some time brainstorming what they would say on the issue from their perspective. If you have a large class, group all the white hats together, red hats together, etc. to work in groups for this part.
  4. Then rearrange students into groups where there is one colored hat per group (groups of 6 is ideal, or 5 with one person taking the role of blue hat as well).
  5. At the end of the class, have a whole group discussion summing up our points and list the details of the topic on the white board. Hopefully students will see that the issue is a very complex one!

26. Pop Quiz

Definition

A pop quiz is a short test that takes place with no prior warning. The quiz can be formative or summative. Link the quiz to rewards to keep students motivated to do well and be prepared at any moment.

Benefits

  • Can be motivating for students who enjoy the challenge of competing with themselves or others.
  • Keeps students on their toes which encourages ongoing review and homework on the part of the students.

Challenges

  • May worry some students who are unprepared.

27. Democratic Vote

Definition

Taking a democratic vote is a progressive education strategy that attempts to empower students in the classroom. Have students vote on what or how they will learn within the classroom. This can be done at a small scale in a lesson plan by asking students to vote on how a lesson will progress, for example.

Benefits

  • Can empower students, giving them a sense of ownership over the classroom.
  • Can build trust and rapport between the students and the teacher.
  • Helps the teacher take the pulse of the class and understand what they want and need.

Challenges

  • Teachers may lose their power and control over the class if they overuse this approach.
  • Just because the majority supports something, it doesn’t mean it’s best. A small group of students may fall behind and have their voices drowned out by the majority.

Theoretical Link

Progressive Education: Progressive educators such as Alfie Kohn advocate for empowering students through increased democracy in the classroom.

For More

See my full post on Citizenship Education.

28. Non-Verbal Gestures

Definition

Using non-verbal gestures are powerful ways to help students learn, as well as to manage the classroom. Educators can explicitly teach signs or use gestures common in society.

Benefits

  • Teachers can give individual students instant feedback that is subtle and does not disrupt the rest of the class.
  • Students feel acknowledged when small gestures are used just for them.
  • It is a non-intrusive way of prompting students.

Challenges

  • Cultural sensitivity required. Different cultures ascribe different meanings to non-verbal gestures.

Examples

  1. Nods of approval can let a student know you have recognized their good work without disrupting the flow of the lesson.
  2. Pointing can be used to direct students’ attention toward prompts around the room or on worksheets that may help stimulate thinking.
  3. Tapping a watch can remind students to pay attention to time limitations of a lesson.

29. Environmental Manipulation

Definition

Environments have a strong impact on learning. Temperature, lighting, seating plans, colors and posters on the walls can all affect learning.

Benefits

  • A non-intrusive way of supporting learning.
  • Helps students feel more comfortable in the classroom.

Challenges

  • Your classroom has limitations which may prevent the ideal environmental settings.
  • Different students may work better in different environments (e.g. heat settings)

Theoretical Link

Humanism: Teachers pay attention to the conditions required for creating an optimal learning environment.

Classical Conditioning (Behaviorism): Students are ‘conditioned’ by cause-and-effect mechanisms that are subtle and that they aren’t even aware of.

For more, see my full post on behaviorism in education.

Example

  1. When a class is too loud, try subtly turning off the fan. It’s amazing how often this small environmental manipulation can quiet down a class.
  2. Ensure the classroom is not too dark. A dark classroom can impede reading, especially for students who do not have perfect eyesight.
  3. Heat and noise can both prevent learning.
  4. Calm colors on the walls can help students relax into the learning environment.

30. Associative Learning

Definition

Associative learning takes place when several ideas are introduced to a student that are mutually reinforcing. In the classroom, this means presenting students with several stimulus materials that help a student to recall a fact.

Benefits

  • Is very effective during revision for an exam.

Challenges

  • Has questionable long-term benefits as at this stage the concept is not yet solidly consolidated in long-term memory. The recall of information is dependant on other associated information.

Theoretical Link

Behaviorism (Pavlov’s Dog): Most famously, Pavlov managed to get a dog to associate the ringing of a bell with food. The dog would salivate whenever the bell rang, whether or not there was food around.

Cognitive Constructivism: while associative learning is most commonly associated with Pavlov, constructivists also have an explanation. The more associations someone has with a topic, the more neural pathways are created connecting ideas. This helps improve memory recall.

Examples

  1. The teacher presents students with rhyming pairs to help a student associate one word with another. This can be effective in teaching vocabulary.
  2. When attempting to recall a fact, you can try to reflect on where you were and what else you were talking about when that fact was first introduced to you.

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