Staff Development Strategies

The Single Best Strategy

Melissa Lim's picture
Description: 
Strategy for discussion and sharing.
Directions: 
  1. Pass out index cards to each individual. (If you can't afford index cards, have them take out a half-sheet of paper.)
  2. Set your watch or a timer for 90 seconds.
  3. Tell participants to write down three things you think every student today needs to thrive in the 21st century (or some other topic of your choosing). In other words, commit to your notecards, for 90 seconds, three responses to something important.
  4. Set that watch or timer again. Ask them to turn to someone they didn't walk in with, and, in the next 90 seconds, look at the six things on their cards, discuss them, and, together, decide on what is the  single most important thing and circle that one thing.
  5. Note: Do not skip any of the above steps. Having students write individually first, and then discuss their thinking ("answers") with someone else and then having them together make some kind of new decision or conclusion, exchanging ideas and convincing or listening to another person, and then explaining that process (or in a huge group, having that process discussed by the teacher)  is the key part of the learning experience. In large classes or groups, have people shout out the circled answer and make that the focus of the next part of the conversation.
  6. As a bonus, on special occasions, in a smaller group of say 30 or 40 or less, have them look at the circled answers and come up with the ONE best answer together. You can make that one answer the subject of the rest of the discussion.
  7. Finally: Lead a discussion on the difference between the individual’s experience and their collective ones. Extend that discussion philosophically, in different ways on different occasions.  For example: talk about our role as citizens of the World Wide Web, how we have to learn and respect collaboration and connection, and make the most of how we can learn from and teach one another. 
Melissa Garner's picture

I think I've used this more than any other single strategy in the database.  Thanks, Melissa!