“Speed Dating” Teaching Strategy

I want to start the education part of my blog with one of my very favorite teaching strategies.  (I have found it especially effective with 9th graders).  The strategy is called “speed dating.”  Here is a break down:

  • Give students various questions (about 5-10) to ponder and write about on a particular topic. (This can be done as a journaling or warm up excercise or can be given as homework).
  • Once each students has been given ample time to write their own answers to each question, you will start the speed dating component.
  • Have students take their paper with their answers on it around with them.
  • Sit students with a partner, facing each other across a desk.  The students as a whole should be in one or two straight lines so that they can easily move from one “date” to the next.  (Much like one would see with speed dating).
  • When you tell them to go, the students will discuss only the first question with their first partner.  Give them about one minute to do so. (Thus, the speediness).
  • After a minute has passed, have one line of students stay put and have the other line move one seat down to a new partner.
  • With their new partner, they will have one minute to discuss #2 and so on down until all questions have been discussed for a minute, each with a different person.
  • After all questions have been discussed, debrief as a class.  Discuss each questions and what new insights were offered on their dates.

I like this strategy for a couple of reasons:  First of all, it keeps students moving, which I have found keeps them a lot more awake and engaged.  Secondly, it gives the students opportunities to interact with many different classmates and usually people they wouldn’t otherwise talk with.  Finally, it gives the students various different perspectives and often challenges them to question, analyze, assess, and defend their own opinion.

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