Thursday, May 5, 2011

The “Mind Dump” class exercise

Explanation of the exercise

I used this exercise today in my history class.  The basic premise is designed around  doing a “mind dump” of information.  “Mind dumps” are simply taking time to write down keywords or phrases that you know about  a given topic.  I have seen this used before tests, but not as part of a classroom lesson.

I began by listing the three most current topics of discussion in our class: Westward Expansion, Civil War, and Civil Rights.  Students were then instructed to use either a sheet of paper or their laptops to create three columns (one for each topic).

After the documents were set up, I instructed the students to take about 20 minutes to quickly list the keywords or phrases they remember from our discussions.  The only provision was that they could not use their notes from those discussions.  This was to measure what they actually remembered.

Once the lists were made, I asked each student to choose one topic and one item on their list to share with the class.  After each share, the class had a chance to ask questions.

We then looked at the 3 lists and broke into small groups – one for each topic.  Each small group then decided on 4 main points taken from their lists.  Each small group then was instructed to divide into subgroups – one for each of the 4 points.  Essentially, we had 12 subgroups; each in charge of a main point.  That subgroup is then in charge of creating a presentation for the class (5-8 minutes long).

Other notes

My class meets every other day for 80 minutes, so you may need to adjust this for time.  Also, I hope to video a few of the presentations which could then be shared with everyone as a reference or an addition to our school website.

Feel free to comment or try this out in your class.

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