Empowerment for students who teach

The IB courses are all two years in length. So the challenge arises at the end of two years to help students review for the entire course. Each student has different strengths regarding what he or she recalls from the two-year journey. Each student has his/her own favorite topics and individual weaknesses regarding what understandings are still incomplete. So, every year I face the task of making the review time most beneficial to the entire group of individuals.

One of my favorite approaches is the mini lesson. The students are expected to pick a topic they find especially difficult or that they know remains weak for them. They select specific assessment statements from that topic and prepare a lesson for the rest of the class.  Assessment is based on their ability to engage the class with their lesson by including an activity and not focusing on a lecture alone (as I have modeled for them for two years through my own instructional approach) as well as their accuracy in understanding of the topic.

The goal is to have the presenter transform an academic weakness into a strength as well as to provide the rest of the class with a productive review on a specific topic.

Student creativity is amazing. They create board games, note-taking sheets, crossword puzzles, and jeopardy games to engage their classmates in an active review.

The first presenter set the bar high as she has clearly understood the goal of this task. She has studied her topic with intensity and has become an expert. In fact, I marvel at her presentation and the ease with which she speaks of the intricacies of spermatogenesis and oogenesis. She can answer spontaneous questions from her peers. Mastery has been achieved.

“So, how has this exercise helped you?”

“Oh, it’s helped me so much! I know if I get a question about this on Paper 2, I will select it.” A topic she once would have steered clear of has now become one she hopes to see on her IB exam.

Another presenter has created a board game that her peers eagerly become involved with. Their competitive nature kicks in as they desire victory and want to land on those “candy spaces” which could earn them a  mini-snickers bar if they answer the question correctly. The presenter doesn’t even need to look at the answers as she has mastered the topic and can tell her peers if they are correct or not. The other students stop and ask questions and clarify points and try to commit ideas to memory.

Eventually everyone presents and I am left amazed at how far they have come. I wish we could do this for every one of their learning gaps, but alas, there is not time for that. As we near the end of the school year I wish everyone happy reviewing!