First of all, I gotta tell you we played with MakeyMakeys today in Engineering class and it was amazing!! So much fun. And the learning.
Here’s the project we’re going to start working on next class. I’ll let you know how it goes.
But really I want to talk about talking. Specifically, we’ve been working on getting better at having discussions in physics. I had been thinking for a while about trying this Talking Points activity (since as soon as I heard about it). The basic idea is that you have a list of statements and the students take turns agreeing or disagreeing with the statements (and each other) and saying why. Check out the link for more details. And click around on her site for plenty of solid reasoning and even research on the topic.
Here’s the handout we used today:
What went really well is that we “fishbowled” a round first. We had one group do three rounds with the first talking point while the rest of the class watched and listened. It was interesting to talk about it right after because they seemed to know exactly what might go wrong.
“It’s hard not to comment even when you agree with the person. Like, you want to say so right away, but then you interrupt them.” -student in 4th block
So I think they were better equipped to learn something from the activity right from the start. I got a chance to sit with most groups for one round (8-9 groups) and I found that it was hard for me to stick to No Comment as well (go figure, right?). But I love the timing of the activity, go for 10 min, then 2 min to assess, then share out with the class. One thing I changed was that I had each student complete the group self assessment at the end. I found that some students were not participating at all on that, so I printed it on the back of the talking points. So they discuss as a group, but everyone writes it.
Overall, I think this will improve discussions because it allows everyone to be patient, listen to each other, and change their minds once they’ve had time to be patient and listen to each other. Only time will tell, but I’m sticking with it. And I’ll blog it when we do it.