Reports can be time-sinks, particularly in large classes. This activity allows for efficiency and student involvement that goes well beyond a single, usually terrified student addressing an entire class where only sadists or "show-offs" would ask questions. Students need to be in small groups of usually four members. To build in accountability, do not pre-identify the team member who will become the group's spokesperson.
After the problem solving discussions are complete and—a key additional step—all team members are prepared to give the team's report, designate a student from each team who will "stray." They can be identified by having the students number off (1,2,3, 4) or by using playing cards with four different suits. The designated students from each group or home team (such as the "Number Ones" or the "Diamonds") leave the home team and rotate to an adjoining team to give the report. In large classes it is essential that the order of rotation is clear. Playing cards work particularly well because the "Aces" know to rotate to the "Twos," the "Jacks" to the "Queens", and so forth. The teacher can also use different colored folders (Yellow, blue, and red folders, for example) for each set of 52 students. Then the students can be told to rotate to a different set of students: The yellow Kings' spokesperson rotates to the blue Ace team, etc.)
The designated students, who are welcomed as visitors, share with this new team the results of their original groups' discussions, giving proposed solutions to problems or summarizing discussions. As a sponge activity, the team can share with the visitor their report. Additional rotations may be desirable if the topic prompted divergent thinking and solutions. Three rotations allow a variety of reports and give the spokespersons rehearsal time and the opportunity to make adjustments based on authentic questions.
Three rotations are also helpful for accountability. When the straying visitor returns to the home team, the three team members can one-by-one summarize the reports they heard from their three visitors.
Three-Stay One-Stray offers a low-threat forum where students can exchange ideas and build social skills such as asking probing questions. It also offers students the opportunity to learn by teaching. Placing the report-out responsibility on the students reinforces the valuable concept that knowledge resides within the learning community, not just with the "authority-figure," the instructor. Perhaps its greatest value lies in its efficiency. Instead of, for example, ten sequenced five-minute reports to the entire class (fifty minutes, plus transition time), individual students are simultaneously giving five-minute reports throughout the room in a non-threatening small group setting.
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