I recently presented a professional development session for high school teachers. Part of the presentation required time to reflect on previous work the teachers had completed. Knowing there the participants ranged in years of service on the work team and comfort level with the topic, I devised a plan to reflect, move, and shuffle.
For this activity:
- Each participant is given a notecard. Depending on the number of participants, and depending on the desired size of discussion groups, at least four different colors of notecards are distributed around the room.
- Participants are given three minutes to write (or brainstorm a list) about previous work (since the last meeting, the beginning of the year, or some other timeline).
- Three areas of the rooms are marked with a number (1, 2, or 3). When the writing time has expired, participants are directed to move to a number. Each number can be prescribed, or participants can be given the direction to separate themselves according to their own, individual, criteria. This is completed without talking.
- In their newly formed groups, participants share with a partner, or with their entire group, why they placed themselves in the group and highlights from their notecards.
- After 3-5 minutes, participants are told to reorganize themselves according to notecard color. The newly formed pairs or groups discuss their reflection, as well as any other insights. When prompted, the groups discuss further work that needs to be completed.
- After another 3-5 minutes, participants are directed to return to their seats and a priority list of future work is developed.
This activity allows multiple voices to be heard. Movement activities help energize the reflection process and allow for purposeful processing time to be planned. Processing time is built in during silent writing, multiple times to share, and reflection time prior to devising a priority list.
Although this activity was used during a professional development session, it could easily be adapted for a classroom. The activity could focus on prior learning, background knowledge, discussion questions, and so forth. Mixing up groups, guiding students to evaluate their learning based on their own criteria, and utilizing movement helps energize the classroom and build the foundation for deep discussions.