Published on February 15, 2014
INNOVATIONS IN EDUCATION, INC. PRESENTS: Brainstreaming™ Information Gap Activities That Enhance Understanding And Facilitate Learning INTEGRATING THE SCIENCE OF LEARNING AND THE ART OF TEACHING BY Louis Mangione and Stephanie Detwiler
INNOVATIONS IN EDUCATION, INC. Louis Mangione Presents: Innovative Teaching Strategies For All Content Areas Instruction for Diverse and Inclusive Classroom Populations Block Scheduling Differentiated Instruction Active Learning Strategies World language and ESL Instruction To schedule a seminar for your school or to request information on his additional workshops: Louis Mangione P.O. Box 930 Vashon, WA. 98070-0930 (206) 251-3521 (206) 567-4650 email: email@example.com website: www.louismangione.com
That’s for me to know, and for you to find out. - Mom
Information Gaps An information gap is a learning activity in which students are provided with incomplete sets of information and must interact with one another in a process defined by the instructor in order to complete a designated task. Relationships Each student is assigned an identity in relationship to one other member of a group. Students move about the room interacting with one another in an attempt to locate members of their particular 3-6 member group. By asking and answering questions, students identify the other individuals in their family or group and determine their relationship to each group member. Alternately, students may be assigned relationships to two other members of a group and must discover their own assigned identity by determining how they fit into a group. Example: 30 chemistry students are given a card containing two pieces of information: one element they must combine with and the type of compound they must ultimately create. Students must then interact with one another to determine their own identities as elements and to form the compounds specified on their cards. Groups would share their results with the class as stimulus for a discussion of patterns that may arise from particular types of combinations. Other Applications: Determining relationships between literary or historical figures and events, relating the functioning of organs, organisms or organelles in living systems, linking numerical and graphed equations, connecting parts to wholes, exploring multiple definitions of a single word, examining separate components of various political systems, grouping elements from the periodic table, constructing geometric proofs, organizing individuals into families, etc. Copyright © 2001 Louis Mangione and Stephanie Detwiler
Information Gaps (continuation) Classification A similar process can be used to help students classify information. An identity is assigned to each student, and a number of groups or a number of members of each group is designated. Group titles or names of categories, however, are not identified. Students must interact with one another to determine possible categories and then physically organize themselves into corresponding groups. Example: Students in a mathematics class are given equations to create a variety of slopes and are challenged to organize themselves into a specified number of categories based on the graphs (drawn on paper or formed by positioning their arms to represent the slope) of their assigned equations. Group results would be shared with the class as stimulus for a discussion of common features of equations resulting in various slopes. Other applications: Classifying plants, animals, food groups, planets, elements, historical figures or events, works of art or literature, pieces of music, parts of speech, stocks and other investments, diseases, rules of play, verb conjugations, etc. Sequencing Another extension of this type of activity requires students to organize themselves into groups and then put themselves into a logical order within that group. Example: Each of 30 English students is given a different paragraph from one of six 5-paragraph essays. Students must read their paragraphs, summarize the content, and interact with other students in an attempt to find the four other paragraphs that complete their essays. Once they have identified the members of their essay group, they must interact with one another to determine the order in which the paragraphs should appear. Group results can be presented to the class as stimulus for a discussion on common traits of opening paragraphs, ideas for transition sentences, use of concessions, etc. Other Applications: Steps in a procedure, proofs, literary and historical events, planets, recipes, balancing a checkbook, writing code,
bibliographical form, movements in a composition, evolution of artistic style, etc. Copyright © 2001 Louis Mangione and Stephanie Detwiler Information Gaps: Forming Family Groups To form family groups, begin by identifying your characters (whether they be historical figures, elements from the periodic table, characters from novels, poems from different authors, etc.). Divide the characters into like groups and label each group member with a different letter of the alphabet. Use the chart below to create cards for your students. Mix, distribute and send the class in search of its families. If your information set does not contain enough separate identities to provide each student with a unique character, double up on one or more families, but provide the duplicate groups with some distinguishing identifier (a different color of paper, a different last name, etc.)
Example One: Example Two: Your name is You are B’s A . Your name is You are C’s B . Your name is You are D’s C . Your name is You are E’s D . Your name is You are A’s E . . . . . , . You are B’s and C’s Who are you? , . You are C’s and D’s Who are you? , . You are D’s and E’s Who are you? , . You are E’s and A’s Who are you? . You are A’s and B’s Who are you? , . Copyright © 2001 Louis Mangione and Stephanie Detwiler Information Gaps (continuation Using Visual Representations Charts, graphs, maps and other types of diagrams or illustrations can become effective tools for fostering communication. Create two versions of a single document, by removing opposing or alternating sets of information from each of two copies. Make enough copies of each version of the document for half of your students. Distribute version A to one half of the class and version B to
the other. Each student will then have roughly half of the necessary information, but no student will have all of the information needed. Students may be asked to make predictions about the missing information, and are then challenged to find a partner with the opposite version of the document to complete their data set. At this point pairs of students may be asked to analyze or draw conclusions about the information they have gathered. This exercise is even more effective when the instructor produces more than two versions of the document in question. Blind Date In this exercise each student chooses or is assigned an identity related to the content of the course. Students may become historical figures, living organisms, characters from readings, people in the news, organs, elements, equations, artists, authors, scientists, etc. Composing these descriptions may require some research. It is important that the information be accurate. Each student writes a description of him or her self – in character and in the first person- without revealing an actual identity. The descriptions are collected, shuffled and redistributed. Students read the descriptions they’ve received and then move about the room asking questions of their peers in an attempt to identify the authors. Debriefing might require students to share something they learned about their “date.” Copyright © 2001 Louis Mangione and Stephanie Detwiler Telephone Information Gaps (continuation) In this activity, a piece of information is secretly passed from one player to another until it reaches the last group member. The last person then reproduces the acquired information to the best of their ability. What seems a simple child’s game is actually a complex communication activity. The first member of each group, (A), has access to information unavailable to the other group members. This information is then relayed to group member B. B then passes that information on to C and so on.
Varying the format of the information to be relayed increases the difficulty of this activity. Consider using a paragraph, a newspaper article, a cartoon, a photograph, a diagram, an object, a recording, or a demonstration. Group member A, upon receiving the information, must construct a detailed explanation that will allow B to visualize the information well enough to reconstruct it again for C. The last group member must then be ready to present the acquired information in any format designated by the teacher. Examples: A reads a short description of the structure of a cell, a list of procedures to follow, an editorial, a poem. The last group member writes, draws, describes orally, or acts out the acquired information. A sees a representation of a polyhedron and then describes it to B. The last person draws it on the board or recreates it in three dimensions using materials made available in the classroom. A sees model of a water molecule and describes it to B. B then uses the four remaining group members to recreate the model using their bodies. A reads a scene from a play or a news article and then describes it to B. B relays information to C who must do a news report based on info gained from B. A has an equation, B works it out on the graphing calculator, C must determine what the equation was from the results of B’s work on the calculator. Copyright © 2001 Louis Mangione and Stephanie Detwiler People Bingo This is an excellent information gap activity that requires students to interact with one another in order to exchange personalized or content-based information. Variation: Getting-to-Know-You People Bingo: Each student writes something about him/herself that no one in the room knows on an index card. The teacher collects the cards and compiles the information on a grid or chart for the next class period. Students are then challenged to identify the source of each statement by asking questions of their classmates in target. When a speaker has been identified, s/he is asked to sign the appropriate quotation. Students are not allowed to point, to ask questions about location on
the page or to ask questions such as, “Which one are you?” The first to collect all of the signatures correctly wins a prize, but the best part is reviewing the responses and interviewing students for more details about the “secrets” they’ve revealed. Variation: Content-Based People Bingo: Each student is given an identity that pertains to the content or concept being studied. Each student writes 3-5 statements that are true for her/his assigned identity and that are somehow related to the content. Examples: Each student represents a different element, molecule, part of the brain, geometric shape, character in a novel, historical figure or event, piece of equipment, work of art, musical genre, etc. Each student is then challenged to find other students (one for each statement) for whom what they’ve written is also true in order to find connections or patterns. Students ask yes or no questions of their classmates in order to determine the identity of at least three other students. Students ask yes or no questions to find other students, with whom they cancombine, to form a pattern, complete a sequence or rebuild the structure of a certain concept. As with Getting-to-Know-You People Bingo, an essential component of the activity is the follow-up discussion. Individuals can be interviewed for additional information, class responses can be charted or graphed to analyze trends, comparisons can be made between the content under study and the life experience of the students in the class. Copyright © 2001 Louis Mangione and Stephanie Detwiler Copy Cat Information Gaps (continuation) Research suggests that we remember a 90 to 95% of what we teach to others. Copy Cat is an effective cooperative activity that challenges students to relay information to a partner in order to accomplish a given task. This technique can be used in any classroom situation. The materials you will need and the procedure for acquiring and relaying the information depends entirely on the content of your lesson.
The students are divided into pairs. If the classroom is equipped with desks, student pairs must turn their desks in order to face each other. One student should be facing toward the instructor and the other facing away from the instructor. If there are tables and chairs, one student simply brings her chair to the side of the table opposite her partner. (See grid). The instructor performs a certain task or displays specific information in plain view of those students facing the front (students A). Those students (who can see the instructor’s actions) then give detailed instructions to their partners (students B – who cannot see the instructor’s actions) in order to allow them to recreate or identify the original task or information presented by the instructor. It is sometimes helpful to specify and/or limit the means by which students A may translate the information. Depending on the task, students may be asked to draw, sculpt, pantomime or otherwise explain the process to their peers. Students B reinterpret the information and reproduce it for their partners – either in the original (instructor’s) format or in an entirely new form. The Instructor can provide a time limit to complete the task, organize teams to compete for early completion, or simply allow all students to finish the activity. Regardless of the organizational structure, it is important to discuss both the process and its results. Example: Instructor displays a list of 10 vocabulary words. Students A define or otherwise identify the word without using the word itself. Students B attempt to identify the correct word from their partners’ explanations. Roles are reversed for a second list of words. Teams may compete to be first at identifying all words or for the most creative means of defining/identifying/demonstrating a particular term. Copyright © 2001 Louis Mangione and Stephanie Detwiler NOTE: This activity is most effective when the word bank is drawn from an extensive and varied list. Copy Cat: Sample Activities Use tangrams to create patterns or geometric figures. Student A describes the configuration to Student B, who then reproduces the original pattern using her own tangram set.
List a set of words drawn from a broad vocabulary set. Students must define or otherwise demonstrate the meaning of these words to their partners. Use a series of symbols, images, words, etc. to create a pattern. Student A communicates the pattern to Student B in a new or different format. Student B recreates the pattern in either the original or a new format (Example: Images recreated as words; words recreated as symbols, etc.) Build a three-dimensional model of a content-related item one piece at a time. Student A explains the process to Student B, who builds or draws a similar model using materials provided by the instructor. Arrange items within two-dimensional drawings or models of homes, neighborhoods, etc. in a variety of patterns. Students in an ESL or second language class describe the placement of various objects to their partners their partners to practice prepositions. Lead students on a specific path through a map or maze, or complete the graph of an equation. Student A describes the path; student B reproduces it on a photocopy of the map, etc. Spell vocabulary words in sign language. Student A copies instructor, and Student B writes the letters to determine the correct word. Show a drawing or photograph related to your content. Student A describes the image in as much detail as possible. Student B reproduces the image or attempts to identify the person, place, event, etc. depicted in the original work. Reveal an artifact or other object related to your content. Student A describes the object to Student B, who draws it. Copyright © 2001 Louis Mangione and Stephanie Detwiler
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