The Facing History web site has some interesting Teaching Strategy resources you can either use as is or adopt to the particular needs of your subject, teaching and students.
One of these that particularly caught my attention as being potentially useful for A-level Sociology and Psychology teachers is Give One, Get One, described on the site as a “cooperative learning strategy” in which “students seek out and share ideas and information with classmates“. The basic idea is that students “formulate initial positions and arguments in response to a question or prompt and then share them with each other through a structured procedure“. In practice this involves:
- teachers posing a general question to the class.
- students recording their initial ideas about information they think relevant to answering the question
- students exchanging their ideas with selected partners.
While that covers the basics of the strategy, both teachers and students need to understand the process and full instructions on how to run the strategy are given on the web site (so I don’t propose to go over them here).
The site also provides some ideas about how to debrief students at the end of the exercise but you’re obviously not restricted to this particular way of doing things. I’d go a little further and say that with a bit of thought and tweaking this is the kind of exercise that could easily be used as preparation for an extended piece of written work – such as an essay or timed exam question – or as the basis for a revision session.
One obvious problem you might have to get around is that if you pose an initial question that is specifically aimed at, say, writing an essay you need to ensure your students have enough information about the topic to initially record their ideas. Otherwise the classwork section of the strategy may prove difficult and / or frustrating to implement. One way around this may be to ask students to prepare their ideas about a topic or question prior to coming to class.