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71. Snowball Discussions

Definition

Snowball discussions are another twist on the think-pair-share method. For snowball discussions, students start in pairs and share their thoughts and ideas together. Then, the pairs join up with another pair to create a group of four. These four people share thoughts together, compare notes, debate ideas, and come up with an agreed list of points on a topic. 

Then, groups join up again to make groups of eight. The groups of eight compare points and perspectives, then join up to create groups of 16, etc. until it ends up being a whole class discussion.

Benefits

  • An effective strategy for promoting discussion between students. It can be useful for getting students to compare how different groups of students approach points from different perspectives.

Challenges

  • The class group needs to be large (20+) for enough rounds of this strategy to happen.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural theory: social interaction helps students see perspectives that are not their own and challenge their own views. This helps them pick holes in their own points and improve their misconceptions.

72. Homework: Knowledge Consolidation 

Definition

Yes, homework is a teaching strategy! A traditional approach to homework sees it as an opportunity for students to consolidate information that was taught in class. Studying for upcoming exams is often also an important part of homework.

Other homework strategies like flipped classroom are possible – see the flipped classroom discussion earlier in this article.

Benefits

  • Help students to consolidate information learned in class.
  • Ensures students have an opportunity to keep information fresh in their minds and be reminded of information learned in previous months.

Challenges

  • Excessive homework can impede students’ rights to enjoyment, sports and extracurricular activities out of school.
  • Students often do not have support at home if they get stuck.

Theoretical Link

Behaviorism: repetition over time helps memory retention.

73. Active Listening

Definition

Active listening involves using strategies to pay close attention to what someone is saying. Teachers can explicitly model active listening by giving students strategies like pointing their bodies at the speaker, keeping their eyes on the speaker, nodding when they agree, and putting hands up to ask questions or clarification.

Benefits

  • Active listening encourages respect in the classroom.
  • It could help students to remember better because it minimizes distractions.
  • Students may be more likely to contribute questions if they are paying more attention.

Challenges

  • Some students (such as students with autism) need stress balls, fidget toys, etc to help them concentrate. 

Examples

Examples that show active listening include:

  1. Facing the speaker square-on
  2. Eye contact
  3. Nodding
  4. Asking questions
  5. Repeating, paraphrasing or summarizing the speaker’s statement.

74. Connect, Extend, Challenge

Definition

The “connect, extend, challenge” teaching strategy is a three-step strategy designed to get student thinking about how their knowledge is progressing. 

In step 1, students ‘connect’ what they’re learning to their prior knowledge. In step 2, students think about how the new knowledge ‘extends’ what they already knew. In step 3, students reflect on what ‘challenges’ they still face: what is still confusing to them?

Benefits

  • This is a framework that gets students to explicitly think about how they are progressing in their learning.
  • The clear steps give students guidelines to help them achieve success.

Challenges

Theoretical Link

Social Constructivism: This strategy has implicit links to Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory. Students look at how their backgrounds impact their thinking, what level they are at, and what is still sitting in their ‘zone of proximal development’ (.e.g what they need to learn next).

Examples

  1. Split a piece of paper into three columns to help students in this task: one column for ‘connect’, one for ‘extend’, and one for ‘challenge’.

75. Create a Headline

Definition

While a seemingly simple activity, this instructional strategy gets students to refine the topic they’re exploring down to one simple sentence that catches the essence of the issue. 

For this strategy, have students come up with a headline for the lesson as if they’re a journalist reporting on the issue at hand. Get them to think about how it can be catchy, explain the problem at hand, and provide an engaging ‘hook’ to draw readers in.

Benefits

  • Helps students identify the key point of a lesson, forcing them to think about what is really important in the lesson.

Challenges

  • Some issues are complex and refining it down to one sentence may risk simplification.

Extension

To extend this activity, have students write a journalistic piece to go under the headline.

76. Lesson Objective Transparency

Definition

Being transparent about a lesson objective is a teaching strategy designed to help students understand the purpose of the lesson. By knowing the objective from the outset, the students are less likely to get confused about the purpose and direction of their lesson.

Benefits

  • Students are aware of the purpose of the lesson, which may make it more relevant.
  • Students can more objectively measure how successful they have been in the lesson.

Challenges

  • Lesson objectives are often worded for adults not children, so the wording may just confuse the students at times.

Examples

  1. Write your lesson objectives on the first slide of lecture slides if relevant.

77. Open-Ended Questioning

Definition

Open-ended questioning involves asking questions that require an elaboration in the response. In other words, it cannot be a question that can be answered with “yes” or “no”.

Benefits

  • Students are required to provide explanations and justifications for the points they make.
  • Teachers get a more detailed appreciation of students’ levels of knowledge.

Examples

  1. Make a habit of using open ended questions when talking to students about their work.
  2. Write all assessment tasks with open ended questions.
  3. Pose open ended questions as stimulus prompts.

78. Fishbowl

Definition

The fishbowl strategy gets a small group of students to sit in a circle in the center if the classroom with the rest of the class sitting in a circle around the group.

The students in the middle of the circle complete a discussion or task as a demonstration for the students observing.

Benefits

  • Teachers can use advanced students in the middle of the group as a way of modeling skills or behaviors for the remainder of the class.
  • More knowledgeable students can model behavior for less knowledgeable students. 
  • Students get a chance at performing in front of others.

Challenges

  • Many students will find doing a task I’m front of their peers intimidating.

Theoretical Link

Bandura’s observational learning: Bandura argues that students can learn from observing the modeling of others.

Examples

  1. Get older students from higher grades to sit in the middle of the fishbowl.
  2. Or, use the fishbowl as the “we do” step in the I do, we do, you do method.

79. Four corners

Definition

Use the four corners of the classroom as different stations for answering questions proposed by a teacher.

The stations may have answers like: strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree. Another example may be periods of time for a history exam: the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s. Or, the corners may have specific answers in the corners related to the questions being asked.

Benefits

  • This activity may be appealing for kinesthetic learners who want to move about to stay engaged.
  • Provides a visual comparison between different views of students in the class. 

Challenges

  • When students head to the corners, the teacher needs to ask students to explain their decisions to ensure depth is achieved in the lesson.

Theoretical Link

Multiple Intelligences: The lesson can help students who are kinesthetic learners.

80. Give One, Get One

Definition

This strategy involves getting students to trade ideas with one another. 

Students write down their answer or thoughts to a TEACHER’S question. Then, they pair up. The students give their answer to their partner and take their partner’s answer. They discuss the differences between and merits of each answer. 

Students then split up and find a new partner to repeat the activity. 

Benefits

  • Writing down an answer ensures all students participate and that all students provide an explicit response.
  • Seeing other people’s answers helps students get a broader perspective on a topic.

Challenges

  • Pre-plan for what to do when you don’t have an even number of students in the class.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural theory: students learn from their peers through discussion. Discussion can help broaden horizons and allows students to see multiple perspectives on an issue.

Examples

  1. Present a discussion topic or question to the class.
  2. Have each student write down 3 points on a piece of paper to answer the question.
  3. Pair students up to discuss their answers. Get them to consider similarities and differences as well as pros and cons of each answer.
  4. Have students break apart and trade answers in another pair.

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