Brainstorming involves asking students to come up with their initial thoughts on an issue. The thoughts do not have to be refined or correct. Instead, the students should use the brainstorming time to get their mind flowing and discussion started. Usually, this activity takes place using flip chart / butcher’s paper.
- A good way to start discussion among students, especially if they don’t know each other well or are shy.
- The students may need to assign some roles to group members. Consider rotating the role of ‘writer’ between students (usually one person writes an idea for the whole group on the brainstorming paper).
- A good way of doing this activity is to place students in small groups and provide them a large sheet of paper to write down all their initial thoughts.
- Students can then report all their thoughts back to the class.
82. Expert Jigsaw
The expert jigsaw method teaching method involves having students split into groups of ‘experts’ and then ‘topics’.
First, each ‘expert’ group focuses on a sub-area of a topic to develop their ‘expertise’ as a group.
Once the initial group work discussion has concluded, the ‘expert groups’ split.
The teacher then forms new ‘topic groups’ with one student from each of the original expert groups in the new groups.
The idea is that each group in the second part of the lesson will have an ‘expert’ on a particular area of a topic. Every expert will be able to contribute their perspective to the group
For example, if the topic is dinosaurs, the initial ‘expert groups’ may get together to discuss separate issues: Group 1 will discuss extinction, Group 2 will discuss bones, Group 3 will discuss diets, and Group 4 will discuss geographical locations.
When the ‘topic groups’ converge, they should contain one expert on extinction, one expert on bones, one expert on diets and one expert on geographical locations. The topic group will therefore have a broad range of expert knowledge to discuss and share.
- Gives each student a sense that they have something meaningful to contribute because they will be an expert on something when converging in the ‘topic’ groups.
- Encourages collaboration and positive interdependence in group work.
- Requires forethought and organization by the teacher.
Social Constructivism: social interaction helps students construct ideas in their minds. Each student gets to hear the expert perspective of another student who is a ‘more knowledgeable other’, while also acting as the more knowledgeable other when it is their turn to share their expertise.
83. KWL Charts
A KWL chart is a type of graphic organizer that can be used throughout the course of a lesson to help students keep track of their learning.
The chart can be on a simple piece of paper split into three columns: (K) What I already know; (W) What I want to know in this lesson; (K) What I learned.
At the start of the lesson the students can fill out the first two columns. The first column will help the teacher assess prior knowledge. The second column will help the teacher and students guide the lesson by outlining what they want out of it.
At the end of the lesson, the third column can be filled-in: (L) What I learned in the lesson. This helps students reflect on the lesson to show them that they did actually learn something!
- Students can keep track of their own learning.
- There is physical evidence of what was learned that teachers can use in student report cards and teaching portfolios.
- It is a good structured tool to help guide a lesson.
- It would be good if there was a fourth column for ‘what I still want to know’ so student can leave the lesson with more questions that can be addressed in future classes.
- Students sometimes place topics in the (W) What I want to know column that are relevant but not covered in a pre-made lesson plan. This can require the student to get a bit creative in re-arranging their lesson on the fly.
84. SWOT analysis
A SWOT analysis is a teaching tool used to help students identify their own Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
It is often used at the beginning of a term or unit of work to help students self-identify how best to proceed in their studies.
A SWOT analysis starts with a piece of paper split into four quadrants. The top-left has ‘Strengths’, top-right has ‘Weaknesses’, bottom-left has ‘Opportunities’ and the bottom-right has ‘Threats’.
There are plenty of templates online you could download also.
Students then fill out the SWOT sheet, identifying their strengths and weaknesses (e.g. ‘I am organized’ or ‘I am time poor’) and opportunities and threats (e.g. ‘I have the opportunity to work with my peers to improve’ or ‘I have an upcoming swim meet that will take up more of my time’).
- Students are taught to self-assess and plan ahead to avoid upcoming challenges in their lives.
- Students can balance affirming statements about their own skills with honest recognition of their weaknesses.
- I often find students use generic phrases copied from their neighbors. It’s a good idea to insist on depth of engagement and thinking when doing this strategy.
85. Read Aloud
Read aloud is a strategy that involves the teacher reading a text out loud to students. The strategy relies on the teacher using strategic pauses, pitch and tone changes, pace and volume changes, and questioning and comments. These reading aloud strategies help students to become more engaged in a lesson and get more out of the reading experience.
- Can be more engaging than getting students to read to themselves.
- By using strategic pauses and asking questions of students, the text can both be read and analyzed at the same time. This may improve comprehension.
- I’ve found many pre-service teachers get nervous doing this task. Remember that people of all ages love being read to.
86. SIT: Surprising, Interesting, Troubling
A SIT analysis asks students to list aspects of a lesson that were surprising, interesting and troubling. It is useful following the viewing of a short film or reading a book about a topic that seems bizarre or a fact that is counterintuitive.
Like a KWL chart, you could do this task by splitting paper into three columns: one for ‘surprising’, one for ‘interesting’ and one for ‘troubling’.
- Gets students to take a critical stance and make judgements (particularly for ‘troubling’)
- Is a good way to take stock of students’ interests in order to create follow-up lessons based on topics the students have already demonstrated concern for.
- The ‘troubling’ part is often hard for students to complete – consider explicitly modeling a sample response before asking students to complete it alone.
Critical theory: students can use a SIT analysis to critique the justice or inequality issues presented in a text.
87. Higher Order Thinking
When writing a lesson plan, it’s often a very good idea to note any time you’re encouraging higher order thinking – especially if there’s a column in your lesson plan for ‘teaching strategies’. This help people reading the lesson plan to see that you’ve been intentional about promoting higher order thinking.
Following Bloom’s taxonomy, higher order thinking usually includes tasks that involve verbs like: Judge Appraise, Evaluate, Compare, Criticize, Assess, Estimate, Deduce, Hypothesize and Generalize.
- Helps a teacher to be more explicit in their language and to ensure a lesson is challenging for students.
- Ensures students are practicing their critical thinking skills rather than just repeating a teacher’s ‘facts’.
- For higher order thinking tasks, it’s important that you don’t give students the answers. Instead, give them hints, pointers and resources that will help them to come up with the answers on their own.
Constructivism: Bloom was a constructivist who believed learning happens when students build knowledge in their mind rather than just copying facts from an authority figure in the classroom.
Getting students to debate an idea is a great way of getting them to build coherent and logical arguments in defence of a position. It requires them to gather, analyze and sort facts before they present them to an audience.
- Students learn to identify positive arguments on a topic even if they disagree with it, helping them to see things from multiple perspectives.
- Students may require resources to do background research to come up with strong points for or against a position.
- Split the class into two groups and assign each group a position for or against a statement.
- Give each group 15 minutes to come up with some arguments for their side of the argument. Each student in the group should have one argument to make for the team. The student writes their argument down on a piece of paper.
- Line the two groups of students up facing one another.
- Go down the lines getting each student to make their point for or against the position. Zig-zag from one group to the next as you go down the line
- Once the students have completed, do an anonymous poll of the class to find out which position is most convincing. For the poll, students do not have to vote for their team’s position.
89. Note Taking (Cornell Method)
Note taking involves getting students to actively listen out for key points in a speech or video and synthesize it into key points for remembering later.
A popular framework for not taking is the Cornell method. This involves splitting a page into two columns.
The column on the left is a ‘Cue’ column. In the cue column write key words, phrases or Quotes as if they were headings or headline points to remember.
The column on the right is the note taking column. This column is larger and allows space to add detail and diagrams explaining the ‘cues’ that were written on the left in more detail.
- Turns passive learning during a didactic explicit instruction lesson into a more active learning environment.
- Helps students organize and synthesize their thoughts.
- Helps with studying for exams later on.
- Teachers may talk too fast for students to take detailed notes. Remember to use strategic pauses and remind students at strategic times that they need to be taking notes.
- Feel free to download cornell method worksheets off the internet. Just look for them on your favorite search engine!
90. Lesson Recording
Recording a lesson involves using either video, audio or Screencast technology to save the lesson for revision later on.
- This method is very useful for students with learning disabilities who may require more time to process information. They can rewatch later on and make use of pause, rewind and slow functions during the revision.
- Great for when students miss a day so they can catch up.
- Whenever you work with technology, be prepared for issues to arise that may delay the lesson.
- Use Screencasts when teaching a lesson online.
- Screencasts can also save your work when writing on an Interactive Whitenoard. Revision at a later date will show the steps you took in doing the ‘working out’.