Allows small groups of students to think independently and then share their conclusions collaboratively.
Small-Group Discussions/ Getting to know you:
In this strategy, students are divided into small groups of 4 to 6 students and gathered around a piece of chart paper. The chart paper is organized with sections for each student to record their ideas and a central section for students to summarize their individual ideas. First, students individually think about a question and write down their ideas on their own section of the chart paper. Then students share ideas to discover common elements, which can be written in the centre of the chart paper.
- Provide all students with an opportunity to share ideas and learn from each other in a cooperative smallgroup discussion.
- have an opportunity to reflect and participate.
feel that their ideas are valued, enjoy interacting with others, and extend their learning by listening to the ideas of others and accomplish a small group task.
Tips and Resources
- The strategy can be used with a wide variety of questions and prompts.
Use the Placemat strategy for a wide range of learning goals, for example:
- to encourage students to share ideas and come to a consensus about a concept/topic;
- to activate the sharing of prior knowledge among students;
- to help students share problem-solving techniques;
- to facilitate peer review and coaching on a particular type of problem or skill;
- to take group notes during a video or oral presentation;
- to summarize learning after the lesson and be used as an opening review for the subsequent lesson.
- Groups of 4 students are ideal for placemat, but it can also work with up to 6 students in a group.
- You may choose several questions or issues for simultaneous consideration in a Placemat strategy. To start, each group receives a different question or issue to work on. Once they have completed their discussion, the groups rotate through the various questions or issues until all have been explored.
- Placemat also works well as an icebreaker when students are just getting to know each other.
Technology Integration Option
Have learners use iTouch, iPads, mobile devices or laptops to build their own section of the placemat. Then draw or write differences, consensus or commonalities in the center. Have someone take a picture of the completed placemat.