Sunday, February 18, 2018

Make Your Daily Review More Engaging, Interesting, and Relevant with Student Voice Activities

Make Your Daily Review More Engaging, Interesting, and Relevant with Student Voice Activities

My daily review was becoming stagnant, and I didn’t even realize it, probably because I was too focused on the next area of study, rather than properly reinforcing what was just learned. Yet, it’s amazing how a small amount of deliberate focus and effort can turn an important daily practice, such as reviewing previous learning, into a valuable exercise that reinforces much more than the last lesson, but also enhances student voice and supports differentiation. So, I did a little experiment in all of my classes. Each day that I felt review was appropriate I tried to employ a new strategy that was completely student-centered, but teacher-directed. This allowed me to “fill in the gaps” of information that students could not recall, or identify misunderstandings. The additional application that I hadn’t considered, and admittedly stumbled upon, was to include a range of learning skills in each activity (“Approaches To Learning”, for the IB teachers out there). I even found myself shortening longer activities to suit daily review. This addition is now deliberate and the only extra time it takes is to glance at my ATL document. My students have responded well, and I believe our review is more relevant, allows for additional practice and application, and students are far more engaged. We don’t have to review every day, and the teacher can determine how long or how deep to go, based on student feedback. This little “experiment” came after reading “Making Your Teaching Something Special: 50 Simple Ways to Become a Better Teacher” by Rushton Hurley (purchase from EdTechTeam Press or Amazon, and feel free to read my review of the book) 

I’m confident teachers from K-12 and university will find something of use in this list that can apply to your subject and practice. With this, please keep in mind that I teach History and Individuals & Societies, so this is the context of my examples. I like to have students write or think independently before moving on to the safety of sharing to a partner or small group - put the onus on everyone to think. Note that each example below has students thinking and discussing before the teacher “fills in the gaps” or corrects misunderstandings. Additionally, note the asterisk (*) when I am highlighting some method of using pairs, groups, or an ATL. 

The teacher decides upon the length of the time spent reviewing. 

Use Relevant Images. Project a slide with one or more images (photos, political cartoons, etc). Ask students to choose one or two, of the images and independently make a few short notes on how it relates to what was studied the day before. Allow students to speak to a partner or small group. Get them to make one point each at a time to provide equity. 

Draw an Image, Process, Diagram. Rather than posting some process you’ve reviewed, have students recall it on their own. Compare it with that of others in the class, and after a brief discussion the elicitation the teacher can show the correct process. 

Use Quotes. If relevant, project a list of quotes that relate to the topic. Ask students to choose one or two, and independently make a few short notes on how it relates to what was studied the day before. 

Use Images and Text. Project a mix of text (such as primary source documents, quotes, newspaper headlines) and images (such as a photograph, a chart, diagram, propaganda poster). Ask students to choose one or two, of the images and independently make a few short notes on how it relates to what was studied the day before. 

Find Images or Text. Have students do a quick web search to find images that relate to a topic, such as a propaganda poster or map (or a piece of text). In pairs or small groups, each taking turns, students explain how their image relates to the prior learning. *This is also an opportunity to remind students of copyright infringement but adding an extra layer - use the advanced Google Search tool to find copyright free images, or a website such as Flickr. 

Summarize In Groups. Have students take two minutes to discuss the key points of the previous learning (don’t allow them to take notes if you want to include the listening ATL below). Then, the 
*Encourage active listening. Let the students know that one person in each group will rotate and paraphrase the discussion for the next group (you’ll have to assign numbers to students and choose the number that rotates).

Word, Phrase, Sentence, 50-Word Statement. Have students independently write a word, a phrase, and a sentence that are all relative to the previous learning. Put the students in small groups to share their ideas. Next, they use their collective ideas to create a 50-word statement. The statement MUST include one idea from each individual. *This promotes collaborative learning, compromise, and inclusion. 

Write & Ask Questions. Have students independently write questions *Students can practice questioning techniques, such as writing one factual, one conceptual, and one debatable question. After writing the questions, have students move around the room spending 30-45 seconds at a time with each person they “meet” (which should be enough time to ask and answer two questions, or give longer time for conceptual and debatable questions). 

Write a Definition. Give students a list of vocabulary or concepts and have them independently write a definition for one or more. Next, in pairs or groups, students can work in groups or pairs to work together to make one definition to share out. *Why not raise the bar? Assign one concept or term to a group to define. Then, each group rotates around the room making additions and suggestions. When the group is back to their original definition they can choose to make revisions or not. This could be a long activity or could lead to a discussion about the process of refining writing and ideas. 

Wagon Wheels. Students write independently based on a teacher prompt. Next, students sit in chairs so that there is an inner circle, and an outer circle of chairs facing each other. The conversations should be one-to-one. Student share one idea at a time each, for equity. See the School Reform Initiative example to better understand this approach.

Compare Short Pieces of Relevant (but new) Writing. Choose a couple of short pieces of writing that relate to the previous learning, but from differing perspectives or approaches. Require that they identify how it relates to the prior learning, as well as highlight the key point or points. Students share with a partner. *This is an opportunity to practice finding the main ideas as well as identifying perspectives. This activity could also be done as a jigsaw. 

Take a Poll. You could use an online poll or some other form of polling to get student opinions on prior learning, leading to a discussion on the topic. Online apps such as Mentimeter, Plickers, Kahoot, Quizziz, Poll Everywhere, or Socrative would work well. Have a look at this Menitmeter poll (Go to and use the code 465182 to see an example student view - you’ll have to make an account to see the teacher view, which you can determine; for this example “Menti” I’ve chosen a spidergraph).

Use Photos/Images of People Doing Things. Have students relate the action taking place in the images to what was learned. 

Use Short Video to Compare. Choose a short video that relates to what has been studied and ask them to explain the connection to the previous learning. For example, a short clip of one dictator that will likely have similarities to a dictator you’ve just studied). *This allows students to practice compare and contrast.

Use a Map To Review. Have students look at a map to review something History or an event. This can be done in pairs or small groups and presented to the class.

Use a Graph to Review. Show a variety of graphs or charts to review previous learning. Students work independently before sharing with a partner or group. 

Have a little fun sometimes…

Play Quizziz or Kahoot. If you’re working with vocabulary or topics with a lot of visuals, it doesn’t take much time to construct a fun online game. Time at the end of class? Do the game again to see if the review at the beginning sticks (you’ll be surprised). I personally like the analytics format in Quizziz. Try this one on globalization terms and concepts my students enjoyed. 

Write a Headline, Obituary, Love Letter, Haiku, a Rap (you get the idea). Put students in small groups or pairs to write something creative that reflects what you want them to review. 

Mime It. Have students work in groups to use a little drama and mime an aspect of what was studies the day before. Consider giving a different task to each group and see if they could communicate it effectively to the other groups. Conversely, give the same task to all and determine which group provided more clarity and why. 

Play Paper Scissors Rock. When reviewing something that has one or more perspectives students move around the room with a notepad playing Paper Scissors Rock. The winner gives one perspective of their choice, while the other offers an opposing or different perspective (of course, this can be done to review when there may have been a lot to remember, or a wide are of interpretations, though you’ll want to figure out the winner’s task and the loser’s task or the game is pointless).

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