Knowledge Building, Oral Language & ELL Secondary:
Create four signs that read “strongly agree”, “agree”, “disagree” or “strongly disagree”
Ensure that signs are large enough that students can read them from across the room
Post each sign in one corner of the classroom
Choose a text or topic that you would like to focus on
For example, your topic could be linked to a content area theme such as “animals”, “states of matter”, “medieval times”
Generate a list of statements pertaining to the text or topic
Statements can be provocative and even controversial so that students can thoughtfully generate opinions about them
For example: “It would be more exciting to live in medieval times than to live in the present.” “Being a knight would be a fun job.”
Read selected text aloud
Explain the activity
Read each of the four signs aloud and direct students’ attention to the corner within which each sign is positioned
Indicate that you will be sharing statements about the text or topic and that students can move to the corner containing the sign that reflects their opinion about the statement
Reiterate that students can either “strongly agree”, “agree”, “disagree”, or “strongly disagree” with the statement about the text
Read the first statement aloud and invite the students to move to their selected corners
Once students have arrived at their chosen corner, invite them to explain the rationale for their choice with a partner
Invite a representative at each corner to share their rationale aloud with the class
Repeat steps 3 through 5 for each statement
English Language Learners/ESL:
- Provide the selected text and vocabulary terms in advance to afford practice time
- Encourage students who speak the same first language to share their rationales with each other even if they select different corners
LD/Reading & Writing Difficulties:
- This may be a good activity for these students since it allows them to express opinions without having to read or write anything down
Cultural Appropriateness & Diversity:
- Select a text that is meaningful and relevant for all students so that the concepts are accessible and students can form opinions about statements
- Select a text that piques students' interests
McGuinness, C. (1999). Research Report No 115: From Thinking Skills to Thinking Classrooms: A Review and Evaluation of Approaches for Developing Pupil's Thinking. Department of Education and Employment, Crown Copyright: Norwich, England.
The goal of Pick a Corner: Engaging Students and Encouraging Critical Thinking is to build critical thinking skills by giving students an opportunity to express and support their opinions about a topic or text in an interactive way.
What You Need
- Create signs
- Choose a topic or text
- Generate a list of statements pertaining to the topic or text
- Teacher reads a text aloud or introduces a topic
- Teacher reads statements that pertain to the text or topic
- Students move to the sign that expresses their opinion on each statement
- Students discuss their opinions with each other and the class
- Signs that say "strongly agree", "agree", "disagree" and "strongly disagree"
- List of statements pertaining to a text or topic
- Text (optional)
What You Do
- when introducing the activity and during the optional read-aloud
- as students move to various corners and discuss their rationale with a partner
- during the optional read-aloud and as students move to the corners
- while students share their rationale for moving to a particular corner
- Make anecdotal comments about students' rationales
- Have students write the rationale for their various opinions as oppose to having them orally explain it to a partner
- Discuss the meaning of the word "opinion" and ways that you could support an opinion
- After reading a text, invite students to generate the statements used in the activity
- To incorporate physical activity, conduct this activity outside or in a gymnasium and have students run, hop or jump to their selected corner
a. Increase the speed with which statements are presented so that students are moving around more frequently
- When doing activities such as this, work to create an environment where everyone's answers are accepted and appreciated and no one is singled out or criticized for their ideas.
a. You may want to have a class discussion in advance about the value of different opinions and how we should respond if someone's opinion is different than ours.
- This activity can be used to assess students' understanding of concepts introduced in science, history, social studies and other subjects. It can also be used with more fact based statements to tap students' prior knowledge about a construct.
a. For example, before a unit on dolphins, have statements like "Dolphins are mammals." "Dolphins can stay under water for a long time without breathing."
- If desired, you can modify the response options to suit your purpose, for example, having "True/False" questions.
- This activity is ideal for English language learners because it provides many opportunities for oral expression.
- This is a good activity to conduct before or after a period of seatwork because it involves a lot of movement and engagement.