Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Small groups reporting out to the large group?

I like to use small group activities in my classes because small group discussions have the potential of giving each student a voice and having students dig deeper into a subject even with limited time. I also like to have the small groups report out to the full group to share what their groups discussed and so on. However, this can sometimes be on the dull side...and it is hard for students to attend to this reporting out, especially if it is at the end of a class session.

So, a few strategies I use to help avoid boring report outs are described below. These strategies -- Rotating Stations, Snowballing, and Jigsaw -- involve students in small group discussions, while allowing for the benefits of reporting out in a different way.

Rotating Stations

  1. Set up discussion stations in the room, with a different provocative issue to discuss at each station.
  2. In groups of 4-5, have students rotate every 10 minutes to a new station.
  3. Have each group record their ideas about the issue on flipchart paper at each station.

  1. Discussion starts with one-on-one discussions.
  2. After designated amount of time, pairs join with another pair, forming a group of 4.
  3. After designated amount of time, quads join with another quad, and so on, until whole group comes together.

  1. Groups of 4-5 students become experts on a particular issue/topic.
  2. New groups are formed. Each new group includes an expert from one of the original groups.
  3. Experts lead new group in a discussion on their area of expertise.

Related posts in this blog:
Discussion ground rules
Don’t jump into discussions
Engaging quieter online students
Karma (or inspiration) points for discussion assessment
Beyond debates and conversational roles (Protocols Part 1)
Structures for asynchronous online discussions (Protocols Part 2)
Structures for synchronous online discussions (Protocols Part 3)
Structures for small groups reporting out to whole group (Protocols Part 4)

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