Engaging Tip of the Day
Net-working Session (The Language-Rich Classroom, 155)
The networking session is a truly simple activity with the extra benefit of needing very little advanced preparation, other than the essential questions or prompts that the teacher has prepared. It’s a learning opportunity that also builds community in the classroom.
Here’s How the Networking Session Works
1. Ask students to respond individually to a prompt or a question in a quick-write.
2. Ask them to find someone they haven’t spoken to that day and share their response with that person.
3. After a specified period of time, ask students to find someone else they haven’t spoken to that day and do the same.
Here’s Why the Networking Session Works for ELLs
In networking sessions, ELLs who tend to be isolated or tend to speak only to their same-language peers are required to find someone they haven’t spoken to that day. All of a sudden, the least popular students become very popular as they are less likely to have conversed with others that day. If students complain that they have spoken to everybody, then congratulate them on their social skills and ask them to find someone they have spoken with the least that day, or modify their task in some other way.
During teaching at the university level, we sometimes notice that students have been sitting for too long, so, instead of asking a question that may have been intended for a spin-off to a lecture or presentation, we’ll pose it as a networking Session. In other words, we’ll still ask the question, but before moving on, we ask students to respond in a quick-write and then “network.” This approach immediately engages the students in active reflection on what will next be introduced through a lecture or PowerPoint presentation. It also allows students to hear the views of several others in class. One thing we always tell our students is that they must get out of their seats. The physical movement wakes them up and gets their cognitive juices flowing. “Because trading a few minutes of teacher talk for a movement activity can actually increase the amount of learning retained, it could be a very worthwhile investment of time” (Sousa, 2006, p. 240).