Thirsty for Strong Instructional Practice?
Have you ever planned a class discussion only to find just a few students participating? Small, structured group discussions often work much better than whole class discussions. But, how can you provide this structure in a way that gets every student actively involved?
Take a SIP of this: Gallery Walks for Structured Small Group Discussions
A Gallery Walk is one structured discussion process that can be used to create a lively, engaged classroom in which all students participate, providing that much-needed structure.
To use a gallery walk:
- Prepare approximately 5-6 different open-ended questions and write each question on a piece of chart paper. Post the questions around the room in places that are accessible to the students along with chart paper markers.
- Assign small groups of students to each question. For the first question, give the students a set amount of time to read the question and to jot ideas on the chart paper. Suggest that students use bullet points as they record their ideas.
- Once the time is up, have students rotate to the next question. The group should read the question, read what the previous group wrote, and add ideas. When time is up, have students rotate again, rotating through each question.
- When the groups arrive back to their first question, they should read through the answers and add anything more if needed. Then that group is responsible for reporting their ideas back to the class.
As students are rotating through each question, the instructor can be checking in with individual groups, informally assessing their understanding of the topics through the small group discussions. Depending on how many questions there are and how much time the class debriefs after sharing out, this process can easily take 45-60 minutes.
Gallery Walks allow students to delve deeply into the topic presented and share their ideas with their peers. It also gets students up and moving which makes for a more interactive and engaging classroom. In addition, Gallery Walks provide instructors much needed time for formative assessment.
Gallery Walks can be used for a variety of purposes—to think about a single question from multiple viewpoints; to think about different questions about a single topic; or to review material, perhaps in the class period before a test. For example, an instructor may want students to think about the impact of a new large business in the community from a variety of perspectives—as a mayor; as a nearby small business owner; as a nearby resident; as a job hunter; and, as a high school principal. A chart would be prepared for each viewpoint allowing the students to consider the issue from multiple perspectives as they rotate through with their groups. In this case, the question at each chart might be: “From the perspective of (a mayor), what are the benefits and drawbacks of a new large business in the community?”
Another example is using this process to prepare for open-ended test questions. Prepare a chart each with a different question that could be on an exam. Allow students to use their texts and notes to add information to support possible answers to the questions. At the end of class, students can take pictures of these charts for their use in studying for the test.
A final example is using an image in a history course at each chart that students can discuss with their group. The question at each chart could be, “What can we learn about this historical event through this image? Be sure to describe, reflect, and analyze the image.” They can write their responses and provide supporting evidence from the text for their ideas. Questions should be open-ended and provide groups with something to think about or consider. In addition, students should be required to support their ideas with examples or evidence.
Still thirsty? Take another SIP of Gallery Walks for Structured Small-Group Discussions
This website provides a lot of ideas for adaptations and possible questions about using gallery walks in a classroom setting: http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/gallerywalk/what.html
The following website is geared for K-12, however these ideas can be easily adapted to classrooms at the university level: http://www.theteachertoolkit.com/index.php/tool/gallery-walk