Collaborative Learning Activity for Busy Teachers

I had the day planned out. Give my write a multiple choice quiz test review assignment and sit in the front of the room and grade papers. Then I heard the new administrator was prowling the halls looking for teachers to scare. I also heard he was a big fan of collaborative learning.

This is what I came up with.

I’ll start with the preparation and procedures since that’s what most of you really want.

PoePreparation. Think of 4-8 topics you’ve recently studied. As soon as the bell rings assign each student a number corresponding to a specific thing you’re reviewing. Since we had just finished an Edgar Allan Poe unit, dividing topics was easy. I wrote each topic on the board.

Procedures. Now that each student’s been assigned a number, you may begin.

  1. Each student should create 2 multiple choice questions based on the category they’ve been assigned.
  2. After a few minutes, instruct students to arrange the desks into groups of 4-5, depending on how you assigned the numbers.
  3. After the desks have been satisfactorily arranged, assign groups to each cluster.
  4. As a group students write a 12-question multiple choice quiz as a team.
  5. Assign categories for questions. For example, the Poe quiz had to contain the following: (1) two questions about plot; (2) two questions about theme; (3) two questions about suspense; (4) two questions about figurative language; (5) two questions about imagery or symbolism; (6) two questions about language acquisition.
  6. Once the quizzes are created, make sure each student has a copy. This can easily be accomplished by cell phone cameras, a quick run to the copy machine, or the old fashion way of each group member writing the question by hand.
  7. Assign each student on each group a letter. The number of letters should be determined by the following formula: # of students in class / # of stories or concepts you’re reviewing. In this case 6. The class in question has 39 students (can’t figure out why public education isn’t what it used to be) so I formed 7 groups (a-g).
  8. Reassign groups by letter. If you did it correctly, each person in each group should have a different story/quiz.
  9. Each student will have 2-3 minutes to quiz and instruct their fellow reassigned group members.

Alternatives. You’ve probably recognized that this is a jigsaw activity. You don’t necessarily need quizzes. It can be notes, story maps, or a combination of things. Here’s a story map graphic organizer, if you choose that option: Short Story Map.

And now for the all important (to your administrator and local politician) common core objectives…

  • RL.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • RL.9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • RL.9-10.3 Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
  • RL.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).
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  1. This is the most wonderfully sarcastic, truthful and useful website on ELA Common Core Lesson plans that I have stumbled across, ever.

    I am going to share this with a few people, but I could not find any information the author of this site. I will still share the site, but it would be good to give teachers a little more info – if there is any available.

    Either way, thanks!! It’s good to have a laugh at 7am, while waiting for the kids to arrive.

  2. Trenton Lorcher says

    Thanks Tara, that’s exactly what I was going for. I am an actual person. My name is Trent and I used to have an amazing About Me page that reviews my incredibly exciting life. I have no idea what happened to it, though. Strange. I taught in Clark County, Nevada for 19 years, took a job at an international school in Costa Rica, where I never actually taught, moved to Guatemala where I didn’t need to teach, and will soon be back in the US where I’ll be delighting our nation’s youth once again. You can now sleep easy at night knowing there is an actual human author to this site. I’ve created and used every single lesson on here in an actual classroom with living, (mostly) breathing students.