A classic Teacher’s Toolkit activity
Quick on the draw is from, the now classic, (The) Teacher’s Toolkit (written by Paul Ginnis; Crown House Publishing, 2002). It is basically an activity where students are given questions, one at a time, to answer from a piece of text. Once they have answered the first question they must bring it to be checked for accuracy before they are given the next question. This is best done as a group task where teams race to be the first to complete all the questions with the correct answers. It doesn’t actually involve any drawing, the name refers to the speed needed to be successful.
Better late than never
To celebrate her recent retirement from teaching my Mum bestowed to me her copy Ginnis’ educator’s bible and I glibly remarked that I was already very familiar with the publication (thank you) and shelved it with my much forgotten and dusty books about aromatherapy and how to make your own Christmas cards. Over the summer, however, I dusted it off and trawled through it looking for some inspiration for September. I’m glad I did because this brought the activity described above to my attention.
In the Psychology classroom
In Psychology I often want students to use their textbook but asking them to simply read and comprehend the text can seem like a waste of lesson time. I originally thought this task would just be a “fun” way to quickly find and review textbook information, however, it proved to be so much more.
I was teaching A2 students about restoration accounts of the functions of sleep (AQA Spec A: Biological Rhythms and Sleep) and had already outlined the differing views of Oswald and Horne (with the help of a “flipped” video I made which students watched prior to the lesson) but the textbook included more depth into what specifically might be restored which students needed to consider in order to describe and analyse the theories. Asking them just to read this information (a whole textbook page) would have been unproductive and a teacher explanation would have been unnecessary. Instead I wrote 8 questions that required students to move around the whole page of text using skim reading techniques (literacy) and scanning. Once the students found the relevant material they then start reading for understanding in order to answer the question. I made sure the questions required short, specific answers for speed and to reduce ambiguity in judging the accuracy of their responses.
More than just a bit of fun
Once the students had all completed the activity we revisited the answers and the broad knowledge the students had gained was evident. The familiarity they had with the text meant they could be much more productive, and confident, in their use of the text for a task we did later drawing on this knowledge. The textbook page had become something accessible rather than the unending sea of off-putting words it had started out as. The students said they really enjoyed it (even a self confessed group-work-hater) and I have used it again since.
This activity is simple, easy to put together and works for any topic; highly recommended – thanks Teacher’s Toolkit!