Let the Students Teach

Do you or your students have a case of the winter blahs?If so, try spicing up your approach to the science curriculum, by having your students teach the chapter instead of you. One of the cardinal rules of teaching is: “He or she who does the work learns the most.” Take advantage of this old adage and turn the classroom blahs into a classroom that is exciting and engaging.

First, pick a section of a chapter you have introduced to the students. Then entice them by saying that they will not have to read the whole next section. They will have to only read one part. The catch is that after they are done reading their part they will have to find a creative way to teach that part to the class.

The students love to perform, and I have found that they pay better attention to the chapter if they have to present it. At the same time they are learning important concepts such as: research skills, public speaking skills, and learning how to organize a long term project.

Here are the steps to try this with your class:

First, choose one section of a chapter for students to teach. Preferably a middle section of a chapter you have already introduced. Example: Clues to Evolution which is the second section of a chapter on how organisms change over time.

Divide students into groups of four and assign each group one part of the chapter to read, research and teach to the class.

Ensure individual accountability by having each student responsible for one part of the teaching. When I did this with my class the rules were as follows:

1. Everyone in the group must read the section they are assigned for homework and be prepared to discuss it the next day in class with their group.

2. Everyone must participate in planning the group’s presentation. Assign each group member a number. That number tells them what individual contribution they must make. Assign a facilitator for each group whose job it is to make sure each group member is participating and contributing.

3. Person 1 must find or make a visual aid for the group’s presentation.Let t

4. Person 2 must find a magazine, web or newspaper article about one part of their section. This article must be used in the presentation. Hint: To save time and make sure the articles are grade level appropriate use the articles you can find in Discovery Science Connection. I chose the articles from the reading passages section of science connection, for example: When Whales walked and Growing up Mammal. By limiting the choices you direct the inquiry, which helps students not get off track and waste time searching the Internet.img_4102_2.JPGimg_4115.JPG

5. Person 3 must research 3 interesting facts about the topic that can not be found by reading your science text book

6. Person 4 must write a summary and three review questions to read and ask to the class at the end of the group presentation.

All presentations must have a skit, props, or something else creative to try to make their presentations memorable. Some of my students used a film clip on evolution they found in the science connection film clips.

All students know that this assignment is graded. They know they will receive a group grade and an individual grade on how well they did their assigned part. The time period for this assignment is brief, so they must go right to work.

I give them two days to prepare their presentations and then on the third day they each have seven minutes to present their section to the class. We call it our science symposium. The students dress up if they wish. Some choose to dress up as scientists and wear lab coats. At the end of each presentation, the group summarizes what the class should have learned and ask 3 review questions. I then have them copy in their notebooks what I deem to be the three essential points they should have learned from their student teachers. This way I ensure they have the notes they will need to study for a possible quiz or test on the unit.

Trust me, this is a great way to beat the winter blahs in the classroom and ensure that your students will learn the concepts.img_4103.JPGimg_4103.JPG


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  1. JT said:

    Awesome write up! How did you grade the students giving the presentations? Did you use a rubric or grade sheet? Did you grade the audience at all?

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