Today: methods to discuss content.
The idea of using an “amplifier” is really simple: after a mini lecture, students are asked to write questions on what they just heard on a piece of paper and hand it to a “lead-learner” or “amplifier”, who then asks those questions for everybody else. This lowers the threshold of asking questions, because they become anonymous and nobody has to worry about potentially looking stupid.
On the other hand, students also don’t practice speaking up and asking questions, so it might be good to have an exit plan for this method; i.e. only use this method for the first couple of lectures until students have gotten confident with asking questions in that format and have gained confidence that they won’t be ridiculed for their questions. As a next step, you could then do something like think-pair-share (where students still have the lower threshold of not asking questions in front of a large group, and but practice first in the pair, and then when someone speaks for the pair, they are at least not only speaking for themselves. And once students have gotten good at asking questions that way, maybe they are ready to just ask questions without any extra method, only maybe a little encouragement from the teacher’s side.
This method I thought was funny: A question or statement is written on a poster and students add their comments in writing, without speaking. That’s basically what we’ve been doing for the last year and a half with discussion forums online! But what’s interesting is that what people love to hate online actually might not be all bad. There are clear advantages of occasionally writing things down instead of always communicating verbally: shy students might get the opportunity to participate more easily, thoughts are documented and can be referred to more easily no matter what other thoughts were brought up later, a documentation of the whole discussion is easily available. So enjoy this positive spin on discussion forums! :)
That’s it for today! We’ll continue next #TeachingTuesday with “methods to apply knowledge”.
What other methods do you like to facilitate discussion?