Samuel A. Malachowsky

Senior Lecturer, Department of Software Engineering
Project Management Professional (PMP)

Use this activity to creatively give students a "hook" in remembering lists.
Keywords Classroom Activities, Classroom Engagement

Effectively Presenting Lists Activity

Visually distorted list

List items can often run together, leaving students remembering very little

In many cases, learning concepts covered in class can come down to lists of concepts or ideas, such as McConnell's Classic Mistakes or the 12 Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto, but presenting these can be tedious at times.  Oftentimes, teachers simply read and lightly reinforcing each item - but they can run together and be easily ignored or forgotten.  This simple activity can engage students more actively in the list and provide them with a "hook", assisting recall at a later date.  Steps are as follows:

  1. Assign reading of the list ahead of time.  This activity is one of many steps fore retention and understanding.  The students should enter the classroom having at least seen the list before.
  2. Assign one list item to each student or group of students.  Rarely do the number of items exactly match the number of students, so you might need to assign multiple lite items to one student, multiple students to one list item, etc.
  3. Have them prepare and present the following:
    • The list item name and/or category
    • A description of the concept behind it, or an example if this clarifies it more
    • A clever/funny Twitter hash-tag (#) relevant to the item or description An Example:

McConnell's Classic Mistake number 6: Noisy, Crowded Offices (People Category) - Too many people “all up in your business” results in lost productivity. Quiet work environments are better. #SerenityNow

  1. Reinforce and enhance each item description as needed.  Sometimes a list item is more important or more prominent than others, and sometimes the student does not succeed in properly describing the item or its context.
  2. The order in which students present go may be pre-assigned, logical, random, or each student can choose his/her successor.

Though this may take a little longer than simply reading list items, I believe it increases retention, engagement in the classroom, and gives the students a chance to get to know each other a little better.

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