Here is an easy strategy to encourage students to listen critically to your lectures and to encourage discussion afterward. In both variations, you begin by dividing up students at the beginning of class.
Variation 1: divide students into four teams, each of which has a specific assignment for that day's lecture and discussion.
- Questioners - After the lecture is finished, this team has to ask two questions about the material.
- Nay-Sayers - After the lecture is finished, this team comments on two points with which the team disagrees.
- Yea-Sayers - After the lecture is finished, this team comments on two points with which the team agrees.
- Explainers - After the lecture is finished, this team has to give two specific examples that explain the lecture.
After the lecture, allow the teams to confer. Let each team then report to the class the results of their discussions.
Variation 2: divide students into groups of four students each. Each student will play a specific role within his or her group.
- Example-Giver - This student listens for examples or applications of key concepts.
- Questioner - This student asks two clarifying questions about the material presented in the lecture.
- Devil's Advocate - This student comments on two points with which he or she disagrees.
- Team Player - This student points out two areas of agreement with the lecture material.
The groups confer after the lecture, with each student presenting his or her contributions according to his or her role.
In both variations, the exercise serves to encourage students to follow the lecture more closely, as well as structure the discussion so as to reinforce the material presented in the lecture. -DG
Source: Variation 1 from Mel Silberman. 101 Ways to Make Training Active. Johannesburg: Pfeiffer, 1995. 101-103. Variation 2 from Mel Silberman. Active Learning: 101 Strategies to Teach Any Subject. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1996.