Topics Map > Active Learning > Analysis & Critical Thinking
Topics Map > Active Learning > Physically-Distanced Classroom Activities
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Topics Map > Technical Docs > Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
Process of facilitating a Categorizing Grid active learning activity in a physically-distanced learning space.
Time and Effort
|Instructor Prep Time||Low|
|Student Activity Time||Low|
|Instructor Response Time||Low|
|Complexity of Activity||Low|
Categorizing Grid involves the sorting of ideas into categories. Students receive a grid containing two or three categories along with a scrambled list of terms, images, equations, or other items that belong in those categories. Learners have a limited amount of time to sort the concepts into the correct categories.
NOTE: This approach leverages Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. Blackboard Collaborate Ultra will no longer be available for use at UW-Madison after June 30, 2021. Get more information.
Use it when you want...
- To determine whether, how, and to what extent students understand what goes with what,
- To have students reveal the implicit rules they are using to categorize information, or
- To examine gaps and misperceptions in students’ understanding of content.
What students will need
- Laptop, or tablet, or mobile phone
- Classroom with campus wireless connection
- Resources for student access to computers
The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate Categorizing Grid learning activity within a classroom with a physical distancing layout.
- Select two or three related categories for organizing the information to be presented in class.
- Make a list of examples of items within each category. Review the list to make sure that all items belong to only one category and that all items are familiar to students.
- Make a grid with the categories on the top row and items to be placed in categories on the side.
- Determine when you will have students engage in this activity (beginning, middle, end, or outside of class).
- Decide whether students will work alone, in pairs, or small groups.
- Create your document template in Google Docs.
- Set up students into groups. Note: Consider limiting the group size to 2-3 students. Groups larger than 2-3 people are encouraged to use text-based chat features instead of speaking to one another to reduce the noise volume in the room and to prevent shouting across long distances between students.
- Display the grid and explain the activity.
- Share the method students will use to complete the grid.
- Option 1: Students speak with one another across the empty seats.
- Option 2: Groups follow a link that creates a new version of the template in Google Docs. The document is shared among the group members and with the instructor.
- Leave time for students to ask questions about the activity and clarify items on the list.
- Let students know how much time they have to complete the activity.
- Collect the completed grids and let students know when and how you will use the results.
- Collect grids.
- Review grids and provide feedback/grade based on the quality of the grids.
- Discuss the results of the activity at the next class meeting.
Accessibility and Room Considerations
- Classroom furniture is not to be rearranged to facilitate activities. If you need a different general assignment classroom to meet your instructional needs, contact your curricular representative.
- If students are to move around the room during an activity, consider the mobility, location, equipment, and furniture needs of all students.
- The physical distance between students (particularly in large lecture halls) may make it difficult for students to hear one another when they are asked to speak.
- This same physical distance may increase the noise level in the room as students try to speak to one another. This noise level may cause issues for some students. To this end, it is recommended that group size be limited to pairs (ideally) or triads at most. Activities requiring larger group sizes should utilize text-based chat solutions like those found in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
- The technologies recommended here should meet most campus accessibility requirements. However, you should check with the McBurney Disability Resources Center for guidance on any specific accommodations for your students.
Angelo, Thomas A., and K. Patricia Cross. Classroom Assessment Techniques: a Handbook for College Teachers. Jossey-Bass, 1993. pp. 160-163.