We study Latin roots every day as a warm-up, and after every twelve roots, we have a test. At the beginning of the year, I had students prepare sentences with their new vocabulary words, but I found that they students often misused them and reinforced misunderstandings.
So, I switched recently to having the students create mnemonics for their words. Usually, the students just draw the word's meaning, which is a pretty basic strategy, but I think it helps them remember them.
So, today, they came in with their homework (the twelve mnemonics) and I had them share them in pairs. Then, I asked students if there were any excellent examples that they wanted to share, and I put those on the SmartBoard, under the document camera.
A few days ago, as a wrap-up to our study of Poe, I asked my students to create a piece of artwork that depicted something that they found interesting about Poe -- really anything was fair game, but they had to create a short description (like the ones that you see next to paintings in the museums) to explain their choices.
So, I put the pictures out and instructed the students to walk around and review all of the artwork. Then, they were to initial the artwork that they liked the best (on the back, of course!)
After they finished, I featured a few of the popular pieces on the SmartBoard (using the camera.) I asked the students to highlight whatever they found interesting or compelling about the art.
There are lots of different ways to do this activity -- some people call it "send a question," and some call it "silent discussion."
When the students came in, I handed each one an Uno card with a number, 1-9, on it. I then distributed the sheet of seminar questions that we will be using in the seminar tomorrow.
I ran this activity three times, but you could do more (if your students have long attention spans.) The Uno card tells the students which question they are going to answer first. I set the timer for five minutes and tell them to write as much in response to that question as they can in five minutes. When time is called, they pass their paper to the right. The next person adds to their answer (and they add to the question that they receive.)
In this way, the students get to practice answering three questions (or more), and they benefit from the thinking of two other students on the topic of their own, original question. At the end of the activity, the papers return to their original owners.
[A nice add-on to this activity that I did not do this time is to have students find another person and discuss another question with him or her. All of this is designed to force them to prepare for the seminar, and also for the less-confident or academically advanced students to be able to participate with the support of their peers.]
In addition to preparing for tomorrow's seminar, students must also draft a question that is something that they would like to talk about (preferably outside of the topics already addressed with the questions provided.
This allows students to take ownership of the seminar and to achieve some satisfaction by raising their own questions.
The students wrote their questions on Post-Its (provided) and posted them on the whiteboard.