Debriefing During and After Instruction
In today's climate of high stakes testing
for students and accountability measures for classroom teachers,
the retention of essential information is increasingly becoming
a focal point for good instructional practice. When there
is a lot of information being presented to students, it is
useful to have them summarize their notes, if not every ten
minutes, on a very frequent basis. The important thing about
summarizing by students is that it supports retention and
understanding of material. Below are a variety of summarizing
formats used in classrooms today for the purpose of having
students retain information:
10-2: This technique was developed
by Dr. Mary Budd Rowe, who stated that for every 10 minutes
of instruction, there should be 2 minutes of debriefing
or sharing of notes by students. Students work individually
or in teams to fill in gaps or help each other clarify
3-2-1: At the end of a lesson, a class,
a lecture, a film or a reading, students are asked to write
down 3 things that really interested them; 2 things they'd
like to know more about; and 1 idea they will share with
others or write about. (The heading attached to the 3-2-1
can be changed to suit the activity or content that is
Paired Verbal Fluency: Students get
into pairs. One student is number one and the other is
number two. The teacher assigns a topic for brainstorming.
When the teacher says go, number one tells number two everything
s/he knows about the topic for about a minute, while number
two listens carefully. After the minute is up, number two
tells number one everything s/he knows about the topic
without repeating any ideas shared by number one. This
is usually repeated for three rounds, with a shorter amount
of time allocated to each round. Finally, students identify
discrepancies between what they and their partner shared.
These discrepancies should be shared with the teacher when
processing the verbal fluency.
One Word Summary: Students write one
word that represents or summarizes the concept studied
in class. Afterwards, they write 2-3 sentences that explain
why they chose that one word.
A-B-C Summarize: Each student is given
a letter of the alphabet and they must think of one word
or idea beginning with their designated letter and related
to the topic studied.
Four Box Synectics: Synectics bring
together diverse elements. The teacher draws a box with
4 separate squares. Have the students name four common
everyday objects. Depending on what was studied in class,
have them brainstorm 3-5 similes for each word. Example:
If you are studying atoms in science, say to the kids, "work
in groups to tell how atoms are like a tree; tell how atoms
are like a car; tell how atoms are like a shoe; and tell
how atoms are like a stamp. The group selects its two favorites
to share with the class.
Ticket to Leave: At the end
of the period students have to turn in a "ticket to leave" before
they are dismissed from the class. A "ticket to leave" might
be to "write or ask one question about today's content.something
that may have left them unsure or perplexed. The teacher
needs to be aware that the assumption underlying this activity
is that learning is ongoing and students should have inquiring
minds. The teacher may want to greet the students the next
day with information related to their question so that this
does not become a trivialized activity.
Learning Logs: During the last few minutes
of the period or at the end of the day, students should make
journal entries responding to a variety of questions. Some
questions might be:
What was one important thing you learned
What helped you to learn this in class
About what are you still unsure?
What did you accomplish in class today?
Assess your performance in class today?
Taking the time periodically, during and
after instruction, to provide opportunities for students
to summarize and process information is an essential technique
for getting them to retain information. Once students have
practiced and have become familiar with various formats for
debriefing material, they will begin to select the format
that works best for them.
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