“Think about your answer before responding – a 21st Century Learning Strategy”

Have you ever had an instructor or presenter suggest against throwing your hand up before they have finished stating the question? An excellent way to encourage everyone to participate is to help them think about their response and jot down words or terms and present one key idea.

Here’s how it works:

  • When participants arrive, give them an index card or piece of blank lined paper, and a pen or pencil.
  • After class begins, tell them that during the class, you are going to ask one - three questions that you want them to think about.
  • When you ask one of those questions, give them 30 seconds to jot down ideas or responses.
  • After 30 seconds, state the question again and then ask the participants to present one idea or response, not everything on their card.

There are five significant benefits to using this technique:

  1. Everyone is participating and thinking even if they don’t verbalize an answer or response.
  2. The “frequent” talker is limited to a single response.
  3. Everyone that wants to speak gets the opportunity to present their ideas.
  4. The participants have focused their brain on one specific idea or concept (this encourages the organization of ideas).
  5. Hearing what other people have to say exposes participants to alternative ideas.

If you are not sure how your participants will accept this idea, start small. Use one of the “Questions for Discussion” or one of the questions from the class Speaker Notes. As the group becomes more comfortable with this 21st Century Learning Strategy, they will look forward to the “think before you speak” idea!