A simple and most effect means to engagement with students. (A longer entry but well worth it!)

Give One/Get One (or as some middle school colleagues prefer: Seek One/Share One), offers an invaluable way to activate students to learn from one another. Using the Give One/Get One form, I ask teachers in my workshops first to write approaches that they use to reach challenging students in the top three boxes; then, they move around the room to share their approaches and gather ideas from colleagues, then put ideas in the bottom six boxes… Invariably, teachers pick up new ideas from one another, have an opportunity to share their thinking––and they also enjoy the process.

Give One/Get One encourages community building, as it opens people to learn from one another. It also builds confidence, as they see others writing down their ideas. And, it builds collective responsibility for learning the material in question. Like all new procedures, we should take time to teach our students how to interact using Give One/Get One.

Another Give One/Get One approach helps students review and prepare for a test. Instead of reviewing material for students, we can set up “Give One/Get One as Review” to invite students to review independently, with each other, and then as a class. The opportunity to interact lets them, and us, know what they think they need to learn. They do the work of the review, and better still, we do not have to “go over” what will be on the test. A possible approach:

  • Pass out a Give One/Get One sheet (designed in any way you’d like).
  • Begin by asking students to fill in three blanks at the top at their desks as to what they think is important to learn for the upcoming test.
  • Have them leave their desks to gather ideas from their classmates.
  • When they find another with the same idea(s), put his/her initials on their sheet; the other student does the same.
  • When they find a new idea, add it in a blank box. Once they have all boxes filled in, they should return to their seats.
  • Ask students to volunteer those items in which they had in common with others. Begin with ideas that had the most number of student initials. This way, the most common ideas will be collected first. Record these on the board.
  • Ask, then ideas that some feel are important even though no one else had the same idea. Put these on the board (unless obvious not to).
  • Add a couple of essentials of your own if they do not come from students.
  • NB: Make up the test based on what is on board! Why?
    • Students are empowered because they have a say in what needs to be learned.
    • Teachers discover what students have learned, which may or may not be what they had intended!

Ultimately, as a teacher, you are acting like a coach, i.e., practicing with the material that will be used in the “game”(test). No more guessing games! Students study what they need to study.

We can use Give One/Get One at any time during a lesson. Some teachers use it to pre-assess students’ knowledge, understandings, and skills. Others have used it in the middle of a lesson to stimulate sharing of ideas or to answer questions. And some use it at the end as a summarizer. As with other interactive strategies, we need to use it in context of what we want students to know, understand, and be able to do. Otherwise it becomes another gimmick. The TAPS Template that follows assures that we teach meaningfully.

For more ideas about how to make meaning see Chapter 6 in Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting students to Learn from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Middle-Room-Frank-Thoms/dp/0615358918.