For most teachers a TPRS unit starts with a Personalized Question and Answer (PQA) class discussion. The PQAs typically involve the target structures.

Quick side note: I like Carol Gaab’s clarification of PQA. We’re not necessarily asking personal questions (sometimes we are), but we’re asking customized questions.

Most of the PQA consists of yes/no and multiple choice questions that help a novice learner express more than s/he would be able to alone. Of course, some novice learners are really good at original use of memorized words and phrases and can give more detailed responses to PQA .

Some of my classes are eager to raise their hands and offer responses during PQA class discussions, but some classes or quieter learners in the noisier classes are less likely to raise their hands. So here are some alternatives to class discussion:

Post-it note bar graph: Teacher asks students a question like “What’s your favorite color?” and students write their response on a post-it note. Then, teacher asks each student the question, and as the student responds s/he sticks her/her post-it to the whiteboard. As students add their post-its, a bar graph emerges. Depending on the question, the teacher can ask follow-up questions like “Oh, your favorite color is blue. Is your bike blue?”.

Post-it note bar graphs across sections: This year I have three sections of 7th graders, when we do a post-it note bar graph, I start with a question presented in a Google Form. There are a couple pluses. In the list of multiple choices, I can write first-person full sentence responses that students can copy onto their post-it notes. Obviously, this is helpful for novice low learners. Another plus to the Google Form response is that it’s easy to graph the results. You can even add bonus questions to the form like “Are you in 1st or 2nd period?” and “Are you a boy or girl?”. More graphs = more to discuss.

Gallery walk: The teacher posts questions around the room, and students walk around the room quietly responding. The  responses to questions can be yes/no (write a check in the yes or no column), multiple choice (again, check the appropriate column), or short answer. Once students have walked around and answered the questions, the teacher share the results with a document camera and discuss further.

Alternative: Giant post-it note gallery walk:  They’re rather expensive, but they’re novel if you only use them a couple times a year. Instead of posting questions on walls, the teacher sticks the questions to tables.

Bingo-mingles: The teacher gives students a Bingo card with phrases instead of numbers. The phrases are responses to the PQA. Back to the example of “What’s your favorite color?”, phrases on the Bingo card include “My favorite color is purple” and “I don’t like green”. Students mingle about the room asking each other questions. When someone’s responses matches one of the responses on the Bingo card, that student initials that square on the card. For novice low learners, I recommend projecting or writing on the board, a list of questions to ask during the mingle.

Kagan’s Round Robin: This looks like speed dating. The students form pairs. Either the teacher asks the class a question or students read from a list or table of questions, and in pairs, the students respond to the question to their partner. Students may or may not record their partner’s results depending on what the follow-up activity is. Something Screenshot 2017-04-29 at 5.09.36 PMI experienced at a conference last summer that I found particularly helpful – Students pull the chairs away from the tables and sit knee-to-knee with their partner. It helps minimize distractions.

Surveys: The teacher surveys the students. Vary the response delivery method: raise hands, move to a corner of the room, respond with Plickers, respond with PearDeck/Nearpod/Kahoot.

Venn Diagrams: Working in pairs or groups of three, the students ask each other questions (project a list of questions or write them on the board). Afterwards, the students present their results by writing a few sentences or sharing orally with the class.

Copy-pass-draw: The teacher asks a question and/or write the question on the board. Student A copies question 1 and passes the sheet to Student B. Student B draws his/her response, copies question 2, and passes the sheet to Student C and so on. Afterwards, using the document camera the teacher shares the results. Some students love seeing their doodles projected for the whole class to see and discuss. I teach 7th and 8th grade, and developmentally, most of my students are in an “it’s all about me” phase, which is actually my favorite part of teaching middle school.

Hopefully, I’ll (or you’ll) add to this list later.