Sunday, November 6, 2011

Typewriter Activities: Part II

Typing Discussion (Silent Discussion with Typewriters)
As an activity, this one is pretty easy to do. The only challenge is that you need to keep your class silent for the discussion. What do I mean by this? Read to find out more:
  • A number of questions for whatever you’re teaching. (Hint: try to have questions that require a longer answer. “Who is Paine’s audience in ‘The Crisis’”? is a fair question, but “How does Paine use pathos to persuade his audience?” is a better question.)
  • 1 typewriter per question.
  • Pieces of paper.
  • Larger pieces of paper (legal or tabloid would be great).
Set-Up Steps
  1. Write one question on each of the larger pieces of paper. Make the question clear and easy to read.
  2. Set up the typewriters at stations where they are relatively far apart.
  3. Type each question on a sheet of paper.
  4. Load those sheets (with the typed questions) into the typewriters. Have the typewriter read to go.
  5. Post the questions on the larger sheets of paper above the corresponding typewriter.
Instruction Narrative
“...So, we are going to complete an activity called “Typing Discussion”. You may have noticed the typewriters I have set up around the room. Each one is under a question relating to our reading. When I say go, you are going to walk around the room, read each question, think of a complete answer, and type it down on the corresponding typewriter. After you have typed your response, type your name.
Don’t copy what someone else has said. Be original. If you are having a tough tome coming up with something to type, you can respond to someone else’s comment. Make sure that your response is substantive and adds something to the discussion. Don’t type ‘same”, “me too”, or anything similar. Also remember to keep all comments school-appropriate.
The key is to be quiet during this activity. All I should hear is the sound of typewriters. When you have responded to every question take your seat.
You will want to circulate during this activity. Proximity is the best tool for managing an activity like this.
Wrapping It Up
As a debriefing you can have groups of 3-4 look at each question and circle the “gem” in the morass and share out the findings. There might be some essay topics hidden among these pages.
Silent Discussion and this variant are great because students who are hesitant to share have a way to participate stress-free. I, however, am a little old-fashioned when it comes to teaching. I think that a little classroom stress can be good, but when I want everyone to show an understanding of the topic this is a good technique. Questions that are challenging and thought-provoking are needed. If you lob slow-balls this activity is nearly worthless.