The class I (Cathy) teach for the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education program is from 7-10 in the evening. I feel for my students as this is a demanding time to be learning something new. To make matters worse, many of the students arrive rather fatigued having just left another class that is strictly lecture format. I need to wake them up and get them thinking again. So, capitalizing on my belief in a dialogical approach, for part of each class I implement a different collaborative discussion strategy (e.g. gallery walk, expert groups, four corners, placemat). Our last class, however, was rather unique. I was looking for a way to explore chapter summary and discussion. Plus, I wanted to incorporate our ongoing work on metaphors in education. Suddenly, the strangest memory came to mind… cootie catchers. I wasn’t even sure that was the name until I found it online. Traditionally, this is Japanese origami work, known in the paper folding world as the ‘Fortune Teller’. How, I wondered, could I use this to motivate discussion and review? After some tinkering with my objectives, I had the students place new/significant vocabulary from the chapter on the outside, which the origami maker had to define and spell to move the sections around. Images representing significant ideas and concepts were drawn on the inside, which the player had to identify from the chapter. Guesses were confirmed in writing which were under the hidden flap. Guess what? They loved it and played it many times with many partners, hence reviewing key concepts in the chapter with several people. Then we discussed what happened. Some said now they will never forget their selected words/phrases (e.g. critical consciousness, diaspora, social reproduction and juxtaposition). They were a challenge to spell, too! Others said the images were hard but made them think carefully about the chapter content. The most challenging images I drew on the board at the front of the lecture hall and collectively we tried to guess what they represented. Sometimes we had to get clues from the image maker and we cheered or groaned when we finally got it. At the conclusion of the class we left rather refreshed and interestingly, nostalgic. Every student, no matter what the cultural background or gender, reminisced about playing this game as a child. This was as diverse a literacy event as I have ever encountered and I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a collaborative review more. Below is the website I used to remind the students how to create the origami form.
1 thought on “Experimenting with Collaborative Discussion Strategies”
I didn’t know they were called cootie catchers! As I child we loved these things; my kids loved them too. What an innovative way to help students learn!