The Interactive Classroom
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Teaching Strategies

The following are three lesson plans from the book:


Carousel Brainstorming


Modified by Andi Stix

This exercise is designed to identify the collective thinking of a group in a non-evaluative environment.


Different colored markers, flip chart



    1. Divide the class into cooperative groups and give each team a different colored marker.
    2. Each question should be written on the top portion of a piece of chart paper.
    3. Use masking tape to post the questions on the walls. Allow ample room around each chart, so the group can converge around them.
    4. Assign each group an open-ended question that deals with a different aspect of a particular issue.
    5. Assign a role to each group member, e.g., recorder, encourager, monitor, etc.




    1. Establish a time limit to complete the assigned question.
    2. Ask each group to discuss its ideas/responses to the question. Responses are written down on the chart by the recorder.
    3. After the time frame, rotate the groups. Make sure that each group carries its marker to the next question. However, be sure to rotate the role of recorder. Groups cannot reiterate previously stated responses, but they can continue to add new ideas to the list.
    4. Repeat the same procedure for the remaining questions until the system is exhausted. Using this format, groups “carousel” around the room, rotating among questions.




Following the activity, the instructor posts the charts in the front of the room and asks each group to discuss how the information and ideas were elicited. For each question, the role of speaker is rotated within each group. The instructor assigns one recorder from each group to write down all the responses listed for its initial question. The instructor makes copies and distributes them to the students. As a follow-up assignment, the instructor may ask the students to write a position statement on the issue.




by Andi Stix

This activity can be used in English, history, science, or math classes to discuss and debate current events in conjunction with topics covered in class.



    1. 1. Pick a current, controversial newspaper article.
      (Ex. preserving wildlife vs. creating jobs)
    2. Photocopy the article for each student.



    1. Distribute the article to each student in his cooperative learning group. Ask them to read it either in class or for homework.
    2. Ask each group to take one point of view and generate a list of pros and cons for that view.
    3. Ask each group to take an opposing point of view and generate a list of pros and cons for that view.
    4. In whole group, ask students to describe the role of each person or any company mentioned in the article. Students should use their lists to help guide their responses. The instructor should list these attributes on the board under either the person’ s or the company’s name mentioned in the article. Ask the students to make a copy of whatever is written on the board.
    5. After all points of view have been exhausted, the instructor should ask the students to focus on the issues. Once again, each issue should be discussed and lists should be generated on the board.
    6. At the end of the discussions, students should talk to the other members of their group. They will write a short position paper to be read to the class.



    1. In what ways did your view change from the time you created lists in the cooperative learning groups to when you wrote a position paper?
    2. For what reasons do lawyers have to play “devils advocate” with their own line of reasoning?


Merging Time Lines


by Lana McGorry, District #2, Manhattan and Andi Stix

A teacher often assigns different novels or articles on one subject to his or her students. This allows multiple points of view to emerge when a topic is discussed. Merging Time Lines, a wonderful tool, integrates key elements within each book or article, and merges all information into a standard picture.




    1. Use continuous paper and make one large time line that spans the width or the length of a bulletin board or wall. Determine the time periods in the novel(s) from the earliest year mentioned to the latest year indicated, and section off the time line into at least six quadrants.
    2. Reduce the master copy on standard size paper. Photocopy the time line for each group of students.
    3. Determine cooperative groups by each common book.
    4. Give each group a different colored fine point marker.



  1. Each cooperative group brainstorms the highlights of its book.
  2. Circle the essential highlights.
  3. Sequence the highlights in brief and succinct language.
  4. Research the exact date when each event occurred.
  5. Record the information with the colored marker on the group’s photocopy.
  6. The teacher roams the room and critiques each group’s rough draft.
  7. With the colored marker, each group writes its final version on the master copy (on the board).
  8. Each group is allowed to write its information along a specific line above or below the time line. When the time line is viewed, a row of red information, a row of green information, etc., will be evident. Students join each issue with a vertical line and a dot on the time line itself.
  9. Depending on the age and the type of population, the teacher can begin the discussion by utilizing either technique:
    1. A group representative describes each issue in chronological order of the entire master time line. Each time a group’s issue needs to be addressed, the role of speaker is rotated.
    2. Each book is individually described according to the time line. The role of speaker is rotated for each issue described.