Is it just me, or is everyone feeling the winter slump? The last few weeks of Winter Quarter seem to always drag by, and it becomes increasingly difficult to keep students engaged during class. In order to combat this sense of disengagement in Supplemental Instruction sessions, we require leaders to incorporate several collaborative learning activities into each of their lessons. These activities help to promote deeper learning and allow us to quickly recognize gaps in understanding.
I’ve outlined three of my favorite collaborative learning activities below.
Think Aloud is a method of data collection for qualitative research. This method helps researchers determine participants’ reasoning while solving a problem or completing a task. This process can be easily adapted for use in the classroom and is a great way to encourage a growth mindset and to prompt your students to apply information in new ways.
- Divide your students into small groups of two or three and present them with a problem
- Have students take turns solving the problem in their groups. While they are solving the problem they must verbally share their thought process while the other students in the group listen and record what is being said.
- After all students in the group have solved the problem, the students then compare and contrast their individual processes. They should discuss what did/did not work well and how they plan to approach similar problems in the future.
It is helpful to observe different groups while students are working on their problems. This will help you to identify common areas of struggle and what strategies students use to approach the course material.
Affinity grouping is my go-to activity for brainstorming or whenever I need a group of students to break down a specific concept. It allows students to identify common themes and organize their ideas. This activity is also great at helping to promote a growth mindset, analyzing new information, and it can be easily adapted for small or large groups.
- First, offer your students a prompt.
- Then have them write individual responses on sticky notes or index cards and post them in a common area.
- Instruct the students to silently group the responses according to common themes. Encourage them to regroup or combine groups of ideas as they deem necessary
- Continue until all ideas have been have categorized. I usually make sure there are fewer than five categories.
- Bring the class together to describe each of the categories with a few sentences or a short title.
3 Before Me
This simple activity is a great way promote classroom discussion! It also helps in redirecting questions and encouraging student-to-student interaction.
- When a student asks a question during lecture, have three students offer their own response or comment on a unique feature of that idea.
- During this process you can flesh out correct responses and fill in gaps in understanding.
If you utilize this process consistently, students will begin to respond to their peers’ questions on their own, and your classroom discussions will become more vibrant.