Pause for think-pair-share – Think-pair-share is a common active learning strategy. It can be a quick activity to get students thinking and can also be used as a way to engage students in a longer discussion. The steps are simple:
You can alter think-pair-share activities to include other modes of communication. A few examples of this include:
The One Minute Paper – At the beginning, middle or end of the class, have students respond to two simple questions:
Collect these slips of paper to inform the next class and provide feedback to students who have remaining questions.
Brain Dump/Brain Drain – At the beginning, middle or end of class, have students close their notes and class texts and have them write down everything they learned or can remember. Once they finish, you can have students share their notes with one another and discuss commonalities and differences. Variations on this activity include:
Free write – Once students have read a text, have them free-write their thoughts and questions for several minutes of sustained writing. Tell them to let their thoughts roam and not to focus on creating the perfect sentences. This is an exercise to get them thinking and where they can be playful with their thoughts. Once they finish, have them share with a small group or the larger class.
Low-stakes (or no stakes) quizzes that check for understanding – pose a problem or question that students may see on an exam or for an essay prompt during class. Have them try to answer it and then get feedback from peers or the instructor. These activities are best when they are not graded.
Have students teach each other – Research shows that students learn from explaining concepts and course material in their own words (Chi et. al., 1994). You can create these opportunities by having students teach each other concepts. You can do this in a variety of ways: