The Round Robin

The Round Robin is one of the most effective cooperative learning strategies to use in the classroom and is brilliant for generating and developing ideas in a group setting.

This technique works by building on the consecutive contributions of each participant. You can do this verbally or as a written activity.

I like the silent Round Robin as suggested by one of Australia’s leading educational consultants Eric Frangenheim in his book Reflections on Classroom Thinking Strategies.

The silent Round Robin is a written version and works by focusing on a central question, issue or theme and organising the class into small groups up to 6 arranged in a circle.

Everyone in the group is given a piece of paper and begins writing by contributing their idea. There is no discussion and so this is done silently for around 30 seconds. At a given signal, e.g. a bell, each member of the group passes their piece of paper to the person on their left, reads what is written and then they add another idea. No repeats are allowed. This continues around the group until each member of the group ends up with their own sheet.

Then the silence can be broken and the groups can discuss with each other what has been written. Each group is then tasked with pooling their ideas together into a composite response to share with the rest of the class. The session then concludes with a whole-class discussion.

This strategy involves everyone and gives everyone a voice because for the first part of the activity everything is done in silence. Done this way, everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute without dominant personalities and overly-assertive characters taking over and hogging the stage.

The silent Round Robin can improve students’ critical thinking skills, confidence, independent learning and presentation skills all within a collaborative context. What’s not to like?!

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