Making Lectures Come Alive

6. Get Students Talking

Getting students talking before, during and after a lecture is key to processing and consolidating what was taught. Below are some specific activities that encourage student discussion, 


A. Have students think about a prompt. 

B. Students find a partner and share information about their thinking 

C. This can be done before, during, or after a lecture.


A. Foursomes:  Students work in pairs to find information from handouts or printed material.  Then they find and another pair and share what they have learned.

Standing Survey:  

A. These are good activities to do before or after a lecture.

B. Stand up and gather at least three facts on the topic from someone who is not sitting at your table.  Then go back to you table groups and report your findings.

C. Ask two people from other groups what they already know about the topic and report out to your table group.

Each Teach:  

This activity is good for practicing a skill.

A. Have students get into groups of 2-3

B. One person is the instructor, the others are the students.

C. Give the group a scenario related to a skill with steps.

D. The instructor demonstrates the skill and explains what is important to remember.

E. Switch to a new instructor with the same scenario or a new one.

Whip Around

A. In table groups, students are given a scenario or topic.  

B. They have 30 seconds to start talking.

C. At the end of 30 seconds, the next person picks up where the other person left off.

Make-a-date, Speed dial, Clock Partners:

A. Make an appointment with 12 different people one for each hour on the clock. (modify if you want fewer meetings), or on a phone speed dial with a different people,or on a numbered speed dial list.  

B. Be sure both students record the appointment on their clocks or phones. Only make the appointment if there is an open slot at that hour on both your clocks or speed dial spot.

C. Have a wild card. This is someone who doesn't have a date; they are to stand in front of the room. 

D. If your partner is not here you are the wild card. If everyone has a partner, the wild card joins the pair of his/her choice.

Neighbors. Say to students: "Turn to your neighbor and …

… Reflect on what I just said.

…Reflect on what I just said.

…Identify the key points from the last few minutes.

…Generate practical examples of ideas presented so far.

…Share a time when you've encountered examples of these ideas.

…Share any concerns you have regarding this topic.

…Decide which of the options I listed is the best and why

High Five Partners:

A. Have students meet with another student and high five them. This will be the students high five partner. 

B. Have students identify a low five, elbow bump, and toe touch partner.