Don't know about you, but I find the humble notecard an enormously useful teaching technology. I usually require my students to acquire 25 of them at the beginning of each term. You can use them for fishbowl-inspired discussions, minute papers, and many other classroom assessment techniques.
I wanted to share a simple way I've used notecards to widen class participation. It's shockingly simple:
Give students a simple in-class assignment. A minute paper-type assignment works best. Once everyone finishes, collect the notecards. Then redistribute the cards to the students, ensuring that no one receives their original card. Then proceed to have whatever discussion or shared inquiry you were planning beforehand, with the caveat that students must defend (to the extent they think they can) what's written on their card.
Here's what I've noticed about this technique:
- It makes 'cold calling' less daunting. Since students aren't being asked to defend their own views or ideas, they seem to feel less on the spot when I cold call.
- It also results in a larger number of students participating. Perhaps divorcing discussion from worries about 'being wrong' motivates more reluctant students to get involved.
- A wider range of views end up being offered up for critical consideration.
Has any one tried this or a similar technique?