Tomorrow is my yearly Pre-Evaluation conference with my principal. Last week, he sent out an email asking for our professional goal for this year and suggested that it tie into our high school's goal of "increasing student engagement both in and out of the classroom." I decided that my goal for the year would be using Active Learning strategies on a regular basis.
I wrote about Active Learning last summer in this post. However, since then, I've become even more concerned that "classrooms are a place where students go to watch teachers work." The problem, for me at least, is how to solve this. I have a large collection of games, labs, activities, etc that I like to use, but I want more activities that are quick 5-10 minute activities (like Think-Pair-Share) that could be used during instructional time. Another issue I have is that I teach seniors and so many of the collaborative activities are fairly corny and would not go over well with my students. Yet a third issue I have is that while I have a large classroom, it feels fairly small with 32 bodies, so a lot of "move around activities" are hard to do.
Here are some of my tried and true favorites:
My classroom is set up in pairs. Daily, students talk to and work with their partners to discuss problems. I would like to develop some more specific strategies to use with the partners, beyond Think-Pair-Share.
This strategy was first known as Relay Race and came from an ebay book that I got many many years ago. It is a definitely favorite amongst my students. Students work in pairs (or groups of 4) to work through problems. They get one problem (half sheet) at a time, bring it up to be checked, then get the next one to work on. The kids love this and I really like the individual feedback I can give to each group. This is again more of a review game though.
I have used a Gallery Walk with several concepts and I'm always impressed by the discussion that comes out of it. I love this idea and wish I could use it more often, but it's again a "move around" activity and that limits its usability. I have 8 groups of 4, but only whiteboard space for 6 groups, so I really need to invest in some of the "showerboard" whiteboards.
I really like the idea of Exit Tickets, but I just can't seem to make them work for me. I would love to hear how they are used in other classrooms.
What are your favorite strategies?