Learning Activities For
Workshop Presentationsand Large Classes
William N. Bender,
(The information below may be printed out for personal
I. "Tell Me About It" Activity
Working in small groups,
have each group member share information on his or her "Problem" student's
behavior. Use the questions below as a guide, and write down
as much information as you can to share with the whole group
later. Other group members should make recommendations for solutions
to this problem, if they have had a similar experience.
1. Describe the "typical" inappropriate
behavior of the student who worries you the most. What behavior
represents the most typical type of problem for this kid? Give
as much detail as you can on how these typical behaviors occur
(e.g., your class? mainstream or inclusive class?).
2. Are there things that
seem to "cause" this behavior? Are there times of day when this
behavior is more likely? If so, why?
3. Are there things that
you have tried when this behavior occurred previously? What things
4. Are there things that you
would like to try for this student, if you had more time and/or
assistance in the classroom?
5. What change in behavior
would satisfy you about this student and this behavior? Is there
something that would indicate to you that the problem is "in
remission?" What do you need to have happen?
II. A Gallery
A gallery walk is an opportunity
to move around a gallery exploring various positions and ideas.
Posters with intriguing statements on the theme at hand should
be posted around the room (i.e. taped to the wall), and each
participant should read the posters throughout the entire gallery,
select a position that they feel strongly about, and then take
a stand by that position. Once a small group is formed, begin
a discussion of that poster in the gallery. Use the following
1. What is an example from
your teaching, or what example have you heard of, that best exemplifies
that this is wrong or right?
2. How does the majority of
your group feel about this issue?
3. Can your group suggest specific
remedies for the problems exemplified by this issue?
After the small groups
have discussed these issues for a time, and completed the questions
above, the whole group will reconvene and each small group will
share their issue poster and their conclusions with the whole
group. Then the whole group will briefly discuss the issue, as
III. Thinking Web Class
down what we know and what we think we know.
First write the topic--the
general construct to be learned--on the board in the center of
a circle. Your task during this step is to generate ideas, and
at this point all ideas are welcome.
--get all ideas down on
paper (sticky notes work well)
--mark each with a level
of certainty; !!! = real sure; ! =
somewhat sure; ? =
not sure; ??? = I think I heard that!
--don't criticize any ideas
at this point
--get everyone involved
--keep it fast and fluid,
aiming for 15 to 35 ideas
--let everyone state their
idea, write it and put it up
This step involves construction
of the general concepts related to the overall construct. For
example, if a number of the notes deal with "definition of" you
may want to make that a side-arm on the web.
--generate 4 to 6 constructs
within the larger concept
--read each idea and discuss
it, particularly uncertain ones;
--let others ask questions,
remove ideas only when group reaches consensus (Keep some not
sure ideas, if necessary
--identify ideas on the
sticky notes that go together, and ask
how they go together;
put the sticky notes on the web
in the appropriate
--Get everyone involved
--Stop only when all ideas
are re-located within the web
This step involves re-discussion
of every idea. Solicit opinions of the group on the accuracy,
particularly of the items marked as "not sure."
--Begin by recopying the
major construct and concepts on the board; ask: are the concepts
in the right place?
--Next, read each item
and solicit opinions on accuracy
--When group reaches consensus,
write that item on the board
This step involves checking
the accuracy of the Web given other sources. In most cases, the
class textbook may be used, but any source (internet, library,
films or video) may be used.
--divide the group up,
and have each group verify an "Arm"
--check each fact in the
--report back to group & remove
IV. The Forum
The forum was the marketplace
for ideas found in almost every ancient Roman City. Lively debate,
disagreements, and public discussion which was comprehensive
and quite entertaining was to be found there. You can create
a "Forum" in your classroom. As in Ancient Rome, when the Forum
is taking place, this should become the center of business for
the classroom. It is best to visualize the Forum as...
...a public meeting place
for lively, open discussion;
...a medium of discussion,
debate, and learning;
...a public mini-lecture
from a knowledgeable person;
...an interactive presentation
from knowledgeable authorities.
Does Learning Take Place?
Learning from exciting
and challenging debate is quite fun, and students are generally
much more involved in Forum activities than in more traditional
types of presentations or group reports. A number of advantages
have been noted by teachers who used forums as one component
of their study units. By creating a Forum in your classroom,
invite the sharing
of individual expertise,
disseminate a multi-layered
view of a topic,
increase the depth
provide an audience
for individual work,
stimulate the work
Steps in Creating a
1. Assign topics and days for
the forum. Let various presenters know when they will lead the
discussion and debate.
2. Provide time for students
to prepare themselves for points and counterpoints in a debate
or open discussion. Students may wish to prepare visual aides,
etc. to help them make their points.
3. On the day of the Forum,
set up the room for everyone to see each other, and to see the
presenters as those presenters move around the room.
4. Challenge qualifications
of presenter/participants (i.e. not every member in the class
presents at once, though all may participate as audience discussion
grows). Have the featured speakers done their homework on the
5. Have students established
or reviewed rules for "Appropriate" debate during the forum?
6. Have topic guidelines been
established--what will and what will not be covered?
Facilitating The Forum
1. Give each presenter a "Location" in
the room from which to present and mount wall visuals (if any
2. Give each presenter a few
minutes (2 to 5) to present prior to the discussion.
3. Discussion opens with presenters
agreeing or disagreeing, after the initial presentations. That
discussion is open to audience members.
4. After some discussion, students
are encouraged to reflect on what they learned, either individually
5. Establish a mechanism whereby
students may be evaluated by other students, as well as by the