Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Advanced Placement and Final Word Discussion

Lonni Skrentner, retired AP history teacher, submitted the following information about using the Final Word Discussion with her advanced placement students.

My favorite NUA strategy in Advanced Placement was “Final Word Discussion.” In that strategy, students read an article (something biased or analytical works best). While reading, they highlight sections (no more than two or three lines each) that they think are important, interesting, about which they have questions. I tell them to number the highlights they want to share – 1-2-3, so they have at least two back ups when someone in their group shares their highlight before it is their turn.

Using a deck of cards, “deal” your students into groups of no more than four. You decide which “suit” starts (you’ve culled your deck to include just enough cards for your class – so a class of 12 would only need aces, twos and threes – for an odd number choose a joker and let them pick a group to join). Tell groups their goal is decide on one highlight and a back-up to share with the whole class. Then the strategy works as follows:
  • First person shares a highlight with their rationale or question
  • Each other person in the groups reacts to that person (I don’t get what you mean, I highlighted the same thing but because... etc.)
  • The speaker gets the “final word,” a reaction to what their peers have said.
  • Next person goes and so on.
  • They decide which highlight they want to share in the large group – who will read, who will explain etc.
  • Bring the class back together as soon as you realize most groups are finished sharing (with adults this strategy needs a timer because they will go on talking, but teens will probably be able to go twice around the group in 15 minutes or so!)
  • Have each group share one highlight (make sure they say page number, column and approximate spot so students can follow along) – as teacher ask some clarifying, analytical or further descriptive questions.

    Got questions? Want to brainstorm? Get a coach or colleague to sit down with you. Call Lonni Skrentner, retired EHS social studies teacher (952-946-1173, skrents@aol.com) and she’d be glad to come in on an off day during your prep.

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