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Stump the Teacher/Stump the Student encouraged students, even those who didn't like to, to read. The teacher assigned a portion of the text, and gave the students a specified amount of time to complete it. At the end of the time, the teacher closed the book, and the students got to ask her content oriented questions from the reading material. Even students who don't like to read were scanning and reading trying to find questions that would stump the teacher. However, watch out, at the end of the teachers answer session, she got to ask questions.
One of the most interesting things I saw a colleague do a few years ago that I quickly adapted into my classroom was a Socratic Seminar. The way the teacher arranged the activity, the students formed two circles -- an inner circle that held the class discussion, and the outer circle, which served as observers and note-takers of the inner circle's discussion. What was especially signficant about the activity is that the teacher was a member of the outer circle -- the students were have a completely student-driven, rather than teacher-driven discussion, of the literature in quesiton. All of the students needed to complete the reading assignment, but they also had to prepare in advance of class the topics they could bring to the discussion. They had to prepare for how to help their classmates understand their topics. None of the students knew who would be in which circle, so there was no slacking off. Because the inner circle was much smaller than a whole class discussion, all of the students were under more expectation to participate, and frankly, it seemed easier to participate because there was few hands up in the air. What I noticed is that the students did a great job of being supportive of one anothers ideas and of attempting to connect new ideas to those already covered. Changing the standard class dynamic of whole-class discussion has been a great addition to my classroom as well.
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