Activity aim: To prompt discussion; to develop synthesis skills; to build classroom community
Materials needed: Sticky notes, poster paper (you can also just write topics on the board), pens
Time: 10-15 minutes (or more), depending on the group size
The teacher puts up 3-4 posters (or writes topics on the board) related to the class content or related to the goals for the semester. For example, the posters could say “What do you want to learn in this class?” “What do you think you could teach other people in this class?” “What are your strengths as a ______ student?” “What skills would you like to improve?”
Each student gets a post-it note for each poster. They should respond to the prompt on one post-it note and place it under the question that it answers.
Assign a group of students to each poster. The students should work together to group the post-it notes by theme. For example, on the “What do you think you could teach other people in this class?” poster, the post-it notes that say “I’m good at iMovie,” “I have a lot of experience with Excel,” “I have 10,000 Twitter followers and can help other people learn how to build a following,” and “I know CSS” could all be grouped under the broader category of “Technology.”
Students can report back about their classmates: what kinds of skills are in the room? Who can teach what? What kinds of skills would students like to improve? Are there people who might work together to help build each other’s skills in something specific?
Also, the teacher might report back, too. What are students expecting to learn? How will this map on to what you were expecting to teach? Are there ways to build in time / space for students’ interests? This can be a springboard for a discussion about the content on the syllabus, the learning objectives, etc.