How can I use the Minute Paper Strategy to Enhance Learning in the Classroom?

HowcanIusetheMinutePaperStrategytoEnhanceLearningintheClassroomAn effective and efficient strategy that doubles as both a classroom assessment tool and a feedback system is the Minute paper strategy. Minute paper is a short writing activity within the classroom in which students generate answers in response to questions asked by the teacher regarding the material taught in class.

For example students are asked to write their answers to questions like “list two important details that were covered in today’s lecture” or “which concept addressed in the lecture poses to be the most confusing”. These questions stimulate a student to reflect on the lesson taught and learned and provides feedback regarding their understanding which helps the teachers to plan ahead for the next class.

Let’s take a look at how we can use minute papers to facilitate active learning within our classrooms:

Ask the right questions: Not all questions used as prompts in the minute paper need to focus on just assessment and feedback.  We can frame questions that focus on what captured the interest of the class, relevance of the material or its usefulness in relation to the outside world, to understand the student’s opinions regarding certain topics, to facilitate reflection and analysis of the lesson learned and also to bridge the old and new concepts.

At the right time: Minute papers can be used before, during and after a lecture. This depends on what purpose you would like to achieve within the class. When handed out during the start of a lecture, the questions can cover the material taught in the previous class and check for understanding and retention of the material. This provides the teacher with a feedback on whether to proceed with the class or to correct any misunderstandings of the topic. It can also serve as an opening question and stimulate the students’ to anticipate for and prepare them for the upcoming lesson.
When used as a closure activity, it helps the students to consolidate the information and to store them for longer retention.  Also it is quite useful to use the minute papers “During” the lecture, to drive home the key point and to allow students’ to reflect on them before proceeding to the next point.  The quick in between activity also serves to break the monotony of the class proceedings and helps to regain the focus of all the students.

Change the format: The minute paper need not always be in the question answer format. You can try out forming a quick crossword with clues regarding the concepts, or identifying from a list of words the concepts that were introduced for the day. The minute paper can also be a jumbled puzzle, requiring the students to put together the concept in the right order.

Why use minute papers in the classroom?
Minute papers have been found to be effective in providing a conceptual bridge as it bridges the gap between yesterday’s learning and today’s learning. It ensures the participation of all the students’ in the class, as it is a writing activity and does not stress on the need of names to be revealed.  Researchers have reported that use of minute papers in the classroom actually increases class attendance and attentiveness and also improves the students’ skill of writing and critical analysis of the topics. Thus minute papers are certainly a good active learning tool that can be incorporated in the classroom

Discuss here: What are some ways in which you get feedback from the students in your classroom?

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