In-class Activity Templates

My undergraduate class sessions often include small group breakouts for both in-person and remote synchronous course formats. Designing and structuring activities that are both engaging and accomplish the learning goals can be a challenge, but I’ve found very few resources for undergraduate class activities, which is why I decided to turn mine into templates to share. I’ve run most of these activities multiple times, so they’ve been updated to work as smoothly as possible.

I currently use Google Slides for all in-class activities, whether in person or remote. Google Slides is easiest for students to edit quickly when permissions are set for “anyone with the link” and there are always enough students with enough devices to edit slide decks during breakout groups. I put the links in the Canvas modules for the week to make them easy to get, but private enough that only the class has access. Students have explicitly expressed a preference for Google Slides over other shared document systems due to ease of use.

Each slide deck starts off with an instructions slide so that I don’t have to keep it up on the screen for in-class projection, which means I can use my screen to monitor progress on the activity. I started using this approach during the pandemic for remote classes so that I didn’t have to intrude on breakout rooms to check on progress. If they are not making active edits, then I check in to make sure they’re not stuck. In person, I make a couple of circuits around the room to check that groups are making progress, answer questions, and discuss their ideas.

For the purposes of sharing, I added a slide to each template about the activity — its purpose, the content it accompanies, and logistical details about the number of groups and amount of time to allocate for the activity and reporting out. These should be removed when preparing them for re-use. You can also customize the appearance to your heart’s content — just please be sure to leave the CC-BY 4.0 attribution in there somewhere.

If you try out these undergrad class activities and find them useful or come up with interesting modifications, I’d love to hear about it!

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