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Knowns and Unknowns

shared by ISUComm on August 18, 2014

Activity Summary:

This is a pre-discussion activity that allows students to assert confidence about readings and also admit confusions in a safe, conversational environment.

Instructions:

It can often be difficult for teachers to get students active in discussions of assigned reading early in the semester. However, this activity can be used at any point to help generate conversation in micro-discussions before opening their ideas to the whole class.

This is a pre-discussion activity that allows students to assert confidence about readings and also admit confusions in a safe, conversational environment.
  1. This activity will be used at any point during class when you’re about to discuss a reading.
  2. Ask students to pull out the reading or load it on their computer.
  3. Each student, individually, will pull out a piece of paper and a pencil (they could also be using a Moodle Forum, as well).
  4. Ask each student to write three assertions about the article. These are ideas they’re confident about (concepts, thesis, sourced materials, credibility strategies, etc.).
  5. After two or three minutes, ask students to jot down three uncertainties about the article (clarity of argument, vocabulary words, significance of concepts, “So What?”).
  6. In writing groups (preferable) or partners, have students share their assertions in a free-form conversation. Next allow students to test their confusions on their classmates. Let the conversations develop shared ideas and questions about the reading.
  7. As you walk around the room, note the themes that arise, and use these as the entry into the class wide discussion.