Here is a repertoire of shorter interactive segments for use
within a class period as reinforcement of material taught. These "activators" or
"energizers" provide learners with an opportunity to process information that has just been presented, read,
or encountered through direct, hands-on experience. These activities are meant to
be built into your own lesson/presentation design.
Turn to Your Neighbor And ... [3-5 minutes]. "Turn
to your neighbor and see if s/he agrees with the statement I have written on the board. If there is a
disagreement, how can you use last nights reading assignment to prove the
3-2-1 [3-5 minutes]. At the end of an explanation or
demonstration, pass out index cards and have each person write down three
important terms or ideas to remember, two ideas or facts they would
like to know more about, and one concept, process, or skill they think
they have mastered. This activity can help make a transition to the next task
and lets you check in quickly on their progress.
Ticket to Leave [3-5 minutes]. This is especially good
when an activity concludes just before lunch. Pass out a printed "ticket" about the size of a
half sheet of notebook paper. Ask each participant to jot down two additional
questions about the topic that was just explained or investigated in some way.
This reinforces the assumptions that you are never finished learning and
should continue to ask questions.
A Note to a Friend. [5-10 minutes]. At the end
of an explanation or demonstration, pass out a sheet of paper and ask each
student to write a note to a friend explaining the process, rule, or concept
they have just learned about.
Sort the Items [5-10 minutes]. The instructor asks the
student to place ideas, concepts, or statements into categories defined by the
instructor. For example, the instructor might ask, "Which statements are based on fact?" and
"Which statements are based on inference?"
Jumbled Summary [5-10 minutes]. On an acetate sheet or
page to be photocopied, the instructor writes in a random order key words or
phrases from an explanation or introduction. Following the presentation, the
instructor asks pairs to "unscramble" the ideas and reorder them in
Prediction Pairs. [5-10 minutes]. The instructor asks
students to work in pairs as they listen to a short story or excerpt read by
the instructor. The instructor reads a short passage, then pauses to ask the
prediction pairs to state, "What will happen next?" and
"Reasons based on what we have read so far?"
Alphabet Summary. [5-10 minutes]. At the end of an
explanation or demonstration, give each student a different letter of the
alphabet and ask him/her to think of one word or idea beginning with that
letter, a word or idea that is connected to the topic just concluded.
Think, Pair, Share [5-10 minutes]. "Individually,
think about what you have just heard. Write down three statements about it on
an index card. [Pause] "Now exchange your responses with a partner." [Pause] What were the most
frequently mentioned ideas and terms?" [whole group debrief.
Draw a Picture or Graphic Organizer. [5-10 minutes]. At
the end of a segment of instructor-directed instruction, ask participants to
work in pairs to create a graphic summary of how they would organize
information, reach a conclusion, or interact differently based on the
demonstration you just provided.
Three-Person Jigsaw. [15 minutes]. Each person reads a
different handout on different aspects of a topic or part of a longer
selection. Then s/he teaches the main points to the other members of their
study group. Each then quizzes the other members to make sure everyone knows
all parts thoroughly.
K-W-L Trio [15 minutes]. Before a film, lecture, or
reading, have students work in threes to write down what they already know
about the subject, and what they want to know about the subject. The, show the
film, deliver the lecture, or engage the group in the reading. Then, have each
trio circle the "known" information that was covered, put asterisks
next to the questions that were answered, and add other things that they
learned as a result of the film, lecture, or reading. K_|_ W_ | L
Drill Partners [15 minutes]. Have students drill each
other on facts they need to recall until they are certain both partners know and can recall them all. This
works effectively with vocabulary terms, sight recognition of birds, leaves,
mathematical symbols and shapes, and grammar.
Writing Response Groups. 20 minutes]. Students
read and respond to each others written work by marking passages that they
think are effective with a star, and underlining what they dont understand
or think is weak. Errors in grammar, usage, punctuation, spelling, or format
are circled. Then, they discuss their observations
with the writer.
Inside-Outside Circles [10-20 minutes]. Organize
students into groups of six, with three persons standing with their backs
touching and facing out, and three persons forming a circle around them,
facing inwards toward the persons in the center. The instructor directs each
pair to exchange information related to previously taught material. Then, the
instructor asks the persons in the center to rotate, facing a new partner, and
chooses a different topic for exchange.
Four Corners. [15-20 minutes]. This is especially
useful in social studies or English classes, where students encounter a
controversial issue. The instructor states a
situation or dilemma, then asks students to go to one of four corners of the
room, marked Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree. There the
students exchange their opinions or reasoning, and summarize their reasoning
for the rest
of the class.
Numbered Heads Together. [10 minutes]. Students are
grouped by teams. Each
team members number off, so that each has a different number. After working
jointly together, the instructor asks a question or presents a problem. The
students must jointly agree on th4e correct answer. The teacher selects a team
and calls a number at random. The student with that number must answer the
briefly be able to explain what the answer is correct. If the group has not
able to come up with an answer that all agree to, the team must
"pass" until it is
called upon again. Numbered Heads can be especially useful when reviewing
large "chunks" of material or in helping students prepare for a
Pairs Check. [10-20 minutes]. The instructor directs
students to work in teams. One person in the pair works on a task while the
other serves as coach. Then, they exchange roles for the second task. At this
point, they ask another pair to check their work. If the second pair agrees
with their responses, the first pair continues. If not, the pair tries to
correct their work.
Roundtable. [10-20 minutes]. The teacher asks a
question with many possible answers. Using one sheet of paper, students make a
list, each person adding one answer, and passing the list on to the person on
the left. The product is the result of many minds [and hands] at work
Send-a-Problem. [10-20 minutes]. Each student on a team
makes up a question or review problem and writes it down on a flashcard. The
author of each problem/question asks the question of his/her teammates. If
they do not have consensus on the answer, the group works on the problem or
rewords it until everyone can explain/agree. Next, the team passes their stack
of review question to another team for review.
Group Test Taking for Practice. [20 minutes]. The day
before a test, give student groups copies of earlier versions of your test or
questions similar to those that will actually be on the test. Tell them that,
"Tomorrow, you will get a test like this, as individuals, and there will
be no team to help you. You can help all you want today. Make sure your
teammates can get a perfect score. Help everyone understand."
Group activities do not have to take a long time. You can
organize people into pairs or
threes and ask them to do the following in five minutes, at the most!
These short assignments break up a longer stretch or
"input" on your part, serve to
energize learners, and give you as springboard for further exposition that is
target with students interests and learning.