Speed Dating Meets Academia
OK, so there was no dating involved, but the concept is the same. The students in one of my classes are, as is always the case, a little slow to come out of their shells. This was holding up the development of their papers about fiction (they will have other papers about poetry and drama in this Composition and Literature course). A solution came to me as I was struggling to sleep Sunday night: speed dating.
I took the format of speed dating and changed it a little to fit the material, and if my students feedback (and their continued discussions, even during a break) are any indication, it was a great success. I had them arrange the desks in facing pairs and set a six-minute countdown timer. They then took turns explaining to one another where they were thinking of going with their papers before questioning one another about details and providing their own reactions to the material. At the end of six minutes, the students facing one way each rotated one position around the room and did it again. We had six rounds of this.
By the end, they had each presented their ideas enough times in different ways and gotten such different feedback that they were well on their way to developing ideas. When we took a break, two pairs were still talking, and another two students took the discussion outside. When I returned, three more students were engaged in a new discussion. I had only just dreamed it might go so well, and we got every student talking during that time, instead of one at a time.
While this is not an ideal format for regular classroom discussion—far from it, in fact—it has brought even the most guarded students out to share their ideas. Next week promises to be lively if we can carry this energy forward, and I'll be doing everything I can to ensure it's there.
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