Frederick Drake and Lynn Nelson, in their book Engagement in Teaching History, share a useful strategy that provides a quick and easy way for kids to review content, “talk” with other students and practice high level thinking skills.
I call it a Station Content Review. It does require a bit of prep on your part but it’s worth it.
- Divide your students into groups of two or three.
- Create a series of prompts for your kids that encourage them to interact with the lesson or unit content. These should be questions that force the brain to go beyond low-level Bloom types of activity. You should create the same number of questions as you have student groups.
- Post the questions on butcher paper and paste on the walls around your room.
- Give each group a different color pen or marker.
- Tell kids that they have two minutes to read each prompt and respond as a group by posting their answer on the butcher paper.
- After two minutes, have each group move to the next prompt, read and post a response.
- Continue the process until every group has rotated back to their original prompt. They should then review the list of responses and create a summary of the information posted.
- Have the groups then rotate through each station again to review the written summary.
Some sample prompts for a US Civil War unit:
- If Civil War experts could put the most important people, events and ideas of the Civil War period into a box, what would be in the box?
- The Civil War is like an iceberg – people, events and ideas appear “above” the surface. What is below the surface? What might have been less evident to those who lived through the war?
- There are many ways to explain how much you know about how the Civil War started. Write a thesis statement you would use in a written essay that would do that.
- There are many ways to explain how much you know about how the Civil War started. Create an image that illustrates how the Civil War started.
- What are some key ideas that all Americans should know about the Civil War?
- Fill in the blanks: The Civil War is like (an animal) because (explain).
- List skills and qualities that a Civil War leader needed to be effective.
- You’ve worked with a variety of primary and secondary historical sources. List the source that is the most important to this unit. Explain why your group believes this.
- List positive ways that describe how primary sources tell us about the past.
- List problems that we have with primary sources when exploring the past.
- During the Civil War, tension existed between liberty and security. List events when the balance between the two shifted.
- Provide a graphic organizer that they could use to “summarize” the summaries.
- Encourage kids to take cell phone photos of each completed prompt / summary instead of using a graphic organizer to collect the data.
- Use WallWisher to create digital prompts instead of butcher paper.
- Use the strategy as a pre-learning activity for a lesson or unit to measure and activate prior knowledge.