Teaching Tips

Snowball effect

As the semester comes to a close, time becomes more precious.  Having students engaged and participatory can take away some scheduled class time, but there is a strategy to that you can implement which provides students an opportunity to share their ideas while an encouraging them to help keep the conversation moving.  This strategy is affectionately known as the “snowball effect.” While attending a pre-conference session at the 2018 POD Network Conference, I learned how this technique can allow all ideas to be shared and keep the group momentum.  Here is a way the “snowball effect” works:

  • In groups, have students work on an assigned task, like generating a list of topics covered over the course of the semester on a giant post-it or whiteboard
  • Once the groups are finished, have students displace their ideas, and have one member from the group share out the ideas
  • While the student is sharing for one group, the other groups must pay attention to see if their idea(s) has (have) been mentioned.  If the idea has already been shared, then they cannot share their idea and should share another idea(s) from the Post-it
  • This process is repeated until all groups have shared

As the ideas get rolling, the latter groups won’t need to take as much time sharing everything and will only spend time on sharing what has not be shared yet.  This could be a great review for an exam or test, or this could be a culminating activity to review and recap the entire semester.  

One thought on “Snowball effect

  1. I love this because it is a great way to scaffold a large assignment, like a having to produce a paper at the end. This snowball method would model for students how to collect and build their ideas throughout any long-term project (instead of waiting until the end).

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