Teaching strategies & activities – for the first day and beyond
Think, Pair, Share: Pose a question, problem, or scenario to your students and ask them to think about it individually for a few minutes. Next, have your students form pairs in which they discuss their respective ideas. Invite students to share the results of their paired thinking with the entire class.
Case Studies: Students consider problems situated in the complexity of their fields. Good case studies, like good stories, are realistic, reflect the complexity of the situation, and involve a conflict or dilemma. For more on case studies see What are case studies? [google: eberly center case what are good case studies]
Opinion Line-Up: The instructor introduces an issue or scenario such as the following: while buying groceries, a dermatologist notices that an elderly man standing next to her seems to have a cancerous mole on the back of his neck; should she inform him of this concern? The instructor then asks the students to line up according to where they stand on the issue: one end of the classroom represents “Yes, she should absolutely tell him,” the opposite end represents “No, she absolutely should not tell him,” and the space in between represents positions such as “I’m not sure,” “It depends,” “probably yes, “probably no,” and so on. Once the students have finished lining up, the instructor asks them to discuss their opinion with those around them. Or, alternatively, the instructor asks each student to pair up with a student who is “far away” to discuss their diverging opinions with each other.
Fishbowl: The instructor asks for four or five volunteers from the class to step forward to perform a given task. The task might be a physical procedure such as preparing a specimen slide for a microscope, or an analytic activity such as debating the pros and cons of an issue. As the group of volunteers engage in the task (in a virtual “fishbowl”), the other students observe, taking notes or assessing their performance. The instructor can ask the observing students to focus on specific aspects – for example, if the students in the fishbowl are engaging in a debate, the instructor might ask the other students to jot down the assumptions that those students are tacitly making. Or, if the task is a physical procedure, the instructor might ask the observing students to identify ways that the task could be performed more effectively, or simply differently. After the students in the fishbowl have completed their task, the other students report on what they observed or what they learned from watching.
One-Minute Reflections: Give your students one minute to jot down a response to a question such as “What was the most important thing you learned during this class?”, “What is still unclear?”, or “Summarize the unit we just completed in one sentence.”
⚙ Technology Tips
To maximize in-class time for the discussion aspect of a reciprocal interview, assign students to complete the handout in advance of class using the discussion and survey features in UM Learn.
Structured Debates: The instructor selects four students to represent the pro side of an issue and four for the con side. The remaining students serve as the audience or “judges” of the debate. The two teams take turns putting forth arguments, making rebuttals, and summarizing, as in any standard debate format. After the debate is over, the students who are acting as judges report on their assessment of the debate.
Mitten Discussion: The instructor tells the students they are about to begin a discussion of a specific issue or problem, but they are allowed to contribute only if they are holding the “discussion mitten” (or a similar item such as a stuffed toy). The instructor begins the discussion by tossing the mitten to one of the students. After contributing to the discussion, that student throws the mitten to another student, who also contributes. That student then throws the mitten to yet another student, and the discussion continues in this way until the issue or problem has been sufficiently explored.
Source: Active Learning Activities from the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Teaching Excellence. Retrieved from: https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/developing-assignments/assignment-design/active-learning-activities