Weekly Tribes – Reflective Practice – Snowball

This is a great reflective practice strategy – to check on skills, assess one another’s work, and get feedback, in general.

Give each student a piece of standard size paper – it is best to use good quality paper.  I use copy paper from the recycling box.  Have students divide the paper into four quadrants and number each quadrant, 1, 2, 3, 4.  To build in individual accountability, have students write their name in the quadrant before they answer.

Pose an open-ended question or begin a problem.  A question might be:  What is another word for “talkative”?  What is something that you hope you never do?  What did you like most about the story we just read?  What is an example of a private sector job?  A problem might be:  Write a two-step equation.  Write a sentence to begin a persuasive argument.  Write a word that you don’t know the definition of.

Tell students that once they have written an answer or response, they should crumple their paper and go stand somewhere around the perimeter of the classroom.  It is important that they know the crumpled paper may NOT leaver their hands.

When all students are standing, give directions for throwing and retrieving snowballs.  I use:  one for ‘ready’, two for ‘throw’ and three for ‘go and get one and return to you seat’.

It is also helpful to have a target for throwing.  It can be a place in the room, an empty wastebasket, or a person holding the wastebasket!

After all snowballs have been retrieved and all students are back in their seats, reading the information on their snowballs, check for understanding, appropriate answers, correctness, etc.  Repeat with another question, or the second step in the equation, paragraph, etc.

Here are more suggestions:

Choose topics that are sequential.
For example: For the first round, have each student write a topic sentence; after they “snowball”, have students each read the topic sentence on the paper they have retrieved, and then write a sentence to detail the topic sentence…and so one – when finished, there should be some good examples of a four sentence paragraph…or not? Then you know what to do about that?! (…why this is a ‘reflective practice’)

Good topics for this are: math equations (great for order of operations); creative writing (story starters); vocabulary (definition, part of speech, synonym/antonym, and use in a sentence); steps in conflict resolution;, etc. Lots of possibilities.
Warning!: This strategy can be loud and active! If you do not have good classroom management, then the content you are using might be lost on the behaviors you must manage. Set this up for success by having verbal/aural cues for crumpling, tossing, retrieving…the snowballs.
Don’t forget to reflect on the content, the agreements (behavior) and the personal experience.