I once heard that the mark of a good teacher is a class that learns from each other. The concept is that, as a teacher, you are fostering a positive learning environment and the students share not only a bond, but knowledge; learning from one another. No doubt, this is accomplished when students are allowed to work together.
A teacher can do a lot to create a learning environment where students unite. Below are three ideas that will help you not only accomplish this task, but also give you a little prep time, too! (These ideas are best suited for middle school participants through adult learners.)
In the musical “The King and I,” (Rogers and Hammerstein, 1951) the teacher, Anna states, “As a teacher I am taught.” I believe most teachers would agree that a great deal of learning comes from teaching – and the same applies to students! If you give them the opportunity to teach, often they learn more than the material. And when they teach together, you are creating an environment of teamwork, a common goal and fun. Here are 6 easy steps to hosting a “Teachback.”
1. Group Up: Break the class into small, diverse groups. Avoid allowing friends to pair up, rather have students pair up by birth month, counting off etc.
2. Explain Goal: Learn with your group and present the information to the class.
3. Assignment: Give each group a specific section of text or content. Make sure the amount assigned is not overwhelming, but understandable within the hour.
4. Chart and Review Time Allowed: Allow specific time to review material, time to collaborate a plan, time to complete prep, time to practice.
5. Chart and Review Rules: ALL students in group must take part in the presentation, engage the audience and get participation, visual aids must be used, offer class a creative way to remember key points, presentation should not exceed 10 minutes.
6. Present: Have students present their Teachback to the class.
Skits are great for teaching and review. In addition, they really allow students to get very creative! The steps to conduct “Skits” in class are the same as the Teachback, with the exception of the Rules. To introduce the concept to the class, review the points in the previous section (Teachbacks) exchanging the Rules for the following:
– Skits should not exceed 10 minutes
– Must contain flow: Beginning, Middle and End
– Use everyone in the group
– Creatively cover key points
– Entertaining (interesting, funny, clever, rhyming, etc)
Before letting the groups break up, share with the class examples or ideas. Once you have completed this activity a few times, you will have an arsenal of ideas to impart. Examples will get the students minds in gear and help make the task seem reasonable and fun.
Other variations of this activity could be requiring something specific. For example, every group must create a jingle, there must be choreography at some point, or each group must have a team name. Keep in mind, adding components usually means allowing more time.
As a teacher, it seems we are constantly coming up with games to reinforce key points, review or even teach a new concept…just trying to make it fun and memorable. But we are not the only ones who can make up a game! If students are given the opportunity, they can come up with awesome ideas. Games are best used for review, when you have extra time. If you have time, use it to let kids make up a game for the class!
Similar to the other ideas listed, break the class in groups, except this time, their goal is to create a game! Depending on the age of your students, rules will certainly vary. But some suggestions are:
– Tell the class their game can only have 3 rules and must allow the whole class to participate.
– Set a time limit to execute the game
– Make sure the game reviews key concepts
– Optional: Bring Tennis Balls or Ping Pong Balls and give each group 3 balls. Require them to incorporate the balls in their game.
– Optional: Place items on a table in the center that any group can use for their game. Use things like dice, a timer, deck of cards, Dixie cups, paper, hula hoop (anything to get their minds going!)
Games can be a blast and when smiles are shared, so is camaraderie. And a class that plays together…stays together!
No matter if you are doing a teachback, a skit, or a game, each of these ideas will help your students learn, review and bond. It just may be what you need to get the break you deserve, the laughs you hope for and the engagement of every student – positively!