Thursday, January 31, 2013

Strategy of the Week

I know I haven't been doing this weekly, but I've been using a strategy lately that I really like. When I shared it with the teachers in the professional development class I'm teaching, the response was good, so I thought I'd share it here.

Strategy of the Week-
Round Table

For this strategy, you need to have several questions that you want to use to assess students' understanding. This activity works best with higher level questions that require more thought and extended answers. 

  1. Type up (or write) your questions, putting each question at the top of its own sheet of paper.
  2. Divide students into groups based on the number of questions you have. If you have 4 questions, your groups will have four members each. 
  3. Make sure each student has a question sheet to start with.
  4. Set a timer for 5 minutes, and have students write their response to the question.
  5. After 5 minutes, have students pass the paper to the group member on the right. 
  6. Give students 1 minute to read the response of the student before them, and then give them 5 minutes to write their own response.
  7. Repeat until all students have had a chance to answer each question, and the papers are back in the hand of the original responder.
  8. Give students a chance to read over the responses written to each question and come to a consensus on the best response for each one. The "best" response could be one single response, or two or three responses pieced together into a better response.
  9. Finally, discuss as a class and give each group a chance to share their responses to the question.
This strategy is great for any student but especially for English language learners. For starters, it gets students working in all four domains of language- they start with writing, read each other's responses, speak to discuss, and listen to their classmates. For another thing, it helps to lower the affective filter by giving students plenty of time to respond, and by allowing students to share their ideas aloud in a lower pressure, small-group setting. Teachers can take up the individual sheets for informal assessment. Additionally, the round-table nature allows students to build on one another's ideas.

Let me know how it goes if you try it out in your classroom!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this idea. This is something I will be able to use in the future. You're right when you say the activity uses all of the domains but I might consider having the kids just use 3 of the questions depending on the grade and ability level.

  2. We want to thank you for being such a dedicated teacher! Your efforts help not only your students but the whole world. We loved the Round Table Strategy, its such a great idea we just might use it in the office! sincerely, Anna from