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Activities for Active Learning Groups

Activities for Active Learning Groups

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Published by: toddconaway on Dec 03, 2010
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Activities for active learning groups: 1. List vocabulary word needed on the board before class. It's their job to write them down and later use the glossary and index to find a definition of and an example for each word. On vocabulary quizzes, they may find the card with that word on it and copy the definition. 2. After a short explanation of a concept and one or possibly two examples, have students work on a given number of problems in their groups. Explain to students that it is essential that before they leave a particular problem and move on to the next, they must make sure that everyone in their group understands the solution strategies. Reinforce this by choosing students at random out of each group to explain a particular problem. If desired, you could assign each student a grade for their explanation and give the same grade to every member of the group. 3. Have groups work on their problems either at the board or on white boards (one for each group) so that the problem is only written down once and everyone works on the problem together. Have students in each group rotate the responsibility of writing the problem on the board. I found that it helped to emphasize to the students that the person writing the problem should be the student doing the least thinking about the problem, because it's difficult to write a problem on the board and also see the process at the same time. When one student writes, the other students in that group are responsible for following the process, making suggestions, and catching mistakes. 4. Have students check their homework in groups by going over the homework problems and coming up with a set of solutions that they believe are correct. Then they hand in the solutions they agreed on. Then the teacher can lead a discussion about the problems on which they were unable to agree. One set of solutions is graded for each group and a percentage grade assigned to the group homework. Also, have the students hand in their individual homework in order to be sure that everyone did the problems. Everyone in the group who completed their homework receives the group grade for their homework grade. Anyone who did not complete the homework receives the corresponding percentage of the group grade. For example, a student who completes 80% of the homework would receive 80% of the group grade as their homework grade. 5. Occassionally give group tests and/or quizzes. Some instructors give group quizzes in pairs, chosen at the beginning of the hour. Each student in the group receives the same grade. 6. Hand out a 2- or 3-page worksheet that covers the chapter and is due at the end of the chapter as a group project. (Only one completed set of solutions is to be turned in by each group.) 7. Have students explain to the person sitting next to them what you just talked about. This can be done at the end of or during a lecture. 8. Ask groups to take a few minutes to discuss and compile everything the group knows (or isn't clear) about a certain topic. Then ask representatives from each group to read their list to help introduce or review a concept. 9. Prepare a relatively unstructured problem and ask groups to brainstorm strategies, pick one and try it, helping each other over the obstacles as the various strengths of the group 1

members are employed. One problem may take the whole period. Asking groups to report their processes and solutions helps their summarizing and organization skills and often brings out the validity of several different approaches. 10. Have students write exam questions in groups and all answer them. 11. At the end of class, have students write down the three most important things you talked about that day or the three most important things they learned that day. 12. Ask groups of students to write problems, either using a problem from their homework as a model, or using a newspaper article, physical situation, or personal experience as a stimulus. Groups might exchange problems or original problems could be collected and given out as homework. 13. Skill building games can be an enjoyable alternative to columns of exercises. Students with children often take a game home to play with their kids. Keep the games simple to explain and have competition based on chance rather than speed or ability. 14. At the end of class, have students list three things their group did well that day and one thing that could stand improvement. 15. With students in groups of 4 or 5, give them a poem to read and make marginal annotation on it. Then after about 5-10 minutes of reading the poem & making comments have the students pass their poem to the left. Then each student reads and comments on the poem with a classmate’s comments on it. Repeat this cycle until each student gets his original poem back. 16. Assign students a specific type of paragraph such as Copmpasr/Contrast, Cause/Effect, or Narrative. Each group could be assigned a different type of paragraph. Then students trade parageraphs, read each other’s paragraphs, and make comments on them. 17. With students in groups of 3 or 4,haive one person in the group write down a problem to solve. Students then take turns writing the steps in solving the problem. The student who wrote down the problem passes it to the left, and the next student write s the first step and passes it to the left. The next student writes the next step in the problem and passes it on to the next student. This process continues until the solution is reached. Then you could have the group discuss how they can check to be sure that their solution is correct and then check the answer. Much of the previous material has been gathered at seminars on cooperative learning presented at the national AMATYC conferences and from three books on cooperative learning - How to Use Cooperative Learning in the Mathematics Class by Artzt and Newman, Cooperative Learning: Increasing College Faculty Instructional Productivity by Johnson, Johnson and Smith, and Cooperative Learning in Mathematics ed. by Neil Davidson, and from colleagues, particularly /Tina Luffman, Professor of English, Yavapai College, Verde Valley Campus..


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