‘What do you know?’ (A great seminar starter activity)


Give students something to do, not something to learn, and the doing is of such a nature to demand thinking.
(John Dewey, 1859–1952)

The What do you know?’ activity is a very successful strategy to help students dive right into your seminar topic. (It works face to face and in cloud learning.) This is how you could go about it:

  • Ask the seminar class to jot down what they know about topic X (and they have only one minute)
  • You or your chosen ‘scribe’ writes the students’ answers up on a white board
  • Then ask ‘What do you want to know about topic x?’ (Write up on whiteboard).

6 reason why you might want to try this activity

  1. Writing is physical prompt for thinking
  2. Writing gives students thinking time in order to contribute to discussion
  3. It focuses everyone on the key concept or topic of the seminar
  4. Helps less experienced students to access the content
  5. Forms a negotiated learning outcome for the seminar (‘what do you want to know?)
  6. Identifies for you where the students are ‘at’ with the topic

For more detail on this strategy and other seminar starters, go to ‘The First 15 Minutes’ module in Learning@Deakin for Sessional Staff or, contact Julia.savage@deakin.edu.au

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Dewey_in_1902.jpg

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