Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Text me your thoughts: Concepts in 160 characters or less

I straight up stole this idea from www.angelamaeirs.com and it worked a treat. Students often overcomplicate issues and struggle to explain a concept succinctly. The final module for our Health & Social Care class is "Independent Learning" and I knew this was one term the students would (a) want explaining, and then (b) still get confused with.

So, at the start of the lesson, I asked students to explain their understanding of 'independent learning' in one text message - yep, 160 characters or less. Immediately everyone had phones in hand writing furiously. I could hear that silence: you know, the one where you can practically hear brains whirring even though there's not a pin drop in the room.

After a few minutes, and a lot of erasing meaningless words, we shared our ideas on the whiteboard and then looked for commonalities. It was easy as most students had used similar concise ideas. Slowly we whittled it down until our final text said:

"Independent learning is studying away from your normal environment, and finding out new things that you will need to do your work. You learn."

While I don't agree with all of it the class were ridiculously proud of nailing something complicated in one sentence and felt a sense of ownership as they had created it together. Even better news is that our next lesson is about 'good writing' and one of the criteria is conciseness. I can see yet more uses for this activity.....