How do you like to start a new class or workshop? Do you enjoy introducing yourself and listening to everyone else as they give who, what, and where details? Does this information stick?
It is important to build relationships while growing into a community of learners. Can this be done in a better (or different) way than just taking turns talking about ourselves? Can we find a way to connect with learners, connect them to each other, and get to know some of their strengths and questions?
In our (new) TI-Nspire Technology for Advanced Users: Designing for Learning and Inquiry workshop, we wanted to build our learning community by finding common ground, experiences, and interests. Instead of having each participant introduce themselves to the entire group, we issued the following challenge:
Would you pick a favorite TI-Nspire document that you use with learners? Would you show and discuss this document with a partner?
As the documents are shared, listen for the description of the lesson and the learning targets and note any opportunity for student investigation and inquiry.
After approximately 20 minutes (10 minutes of show and share per partner), will you introduce your partner to the entire group highlighting 1-2 things learned through the show and share process?
I will admit some of our participants were caught off-guard. This isn’t the way most workshops start.
From my perspective, it was great. Our eighteen participants each spent ten minutes talking about teaching and learning from a bright spot strength and another ten minutes hearing about their partner’s story of teaching and learning from a favorite lesson. Each participant was then introduced by his or her partner, and we heard everyone’s name, where and what they teach, and what they find important about teaching with technology. Participants had the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about teaching and hear what their partner found interesting and important from the conversation.
From a participant’s seat, I had the opportunity to meet and talk one-on-one with someone before the workshop actually started. I heard and connected to part of one person’s story on more than a surface level. I shared one aspect of my work.
From an instructor’s point of view, this was great formative assessment. I could observe who was sharing original work and who was sharing work published by others. This gave me insight into the previous experiences of individual participants. By listening to snippets of conversations, I could begin to learn more about individual participant’s style and interests as well as have an inkling of their skill set.
This show-and-share interview-and-introduction process yielded the same information as traditional introductions plus each participant had the opportunity to get to know someone else, describe another’s bright spot, and hear a sample of their story highlighted.