By Peter Ellis
This worked quite well last week with my AS Physics students. I wanted to get away from the “make a poster” small-group work pitfalls, which in my experience are the triumph of design over content, plus the reinforcement of misconceptions. So I told the class to work in pairs and gave each pair a rough diagram on sugar paper.
With 11 pairs, I managed to cover much of the unit topics. Each pair had 4 minutes to decide what the diagram was about, title and label it and write down some facts and then they had to pass it on to the next pair. They then had 4 minutes to read the information, correct if necessary and add other comments. And then pass it on again. This kept going until each pair had annotated all 11 posters. Once they had got the original back, they jotted down anything about the poster that they did not previously know. The posters were generally of surprisingly good quality and accuracy.
My only input was to wander around and gently hint at any glaring misconceptions, plus suggest as the process went on that they should include some numerical examples. After the lesson I photographed all the posters and put them onto QE online so students had access to them. I also blutacked the posters up in the Physics corridor for the week of the exams. Next lesson, I projected the posters and asked each pair to talk for 1 minute about the one they started with. Students enjoyed it and were made to review the whole module syllabus. The “wisdom of crowds” meant that most misconceptions were bashed out during the process.