Nomination cards can be used in discussion activities as a way to give all students a chance to speak.
It can be a difficult balance trying to facilitate and maintain discussions in the classroom.
You have to think about dominant students, shy students, students who don’t know each other, students who feel that they belong to different social groups, students who feel once they have said something their part in the discussion is over and students who are reluctant to talk.
It’s difficult and if the teacher involves themselves in the discussion, the students will look at them to lead it.
Students need to learn how to nominate each other, how to ask each other for their opinions and how to involve everyone.
You can assign roles to students, or give them an activity to practice these skills.
I tried a nomination activity out and it worked extremely well.
The activity is based on card games, not games like poker, but games that have special cards or cards that give the player an ability. There are games like Uno, where you can change the color or direction of play and there are also games like Pokémon, where you have attacks and defence.
I needed something that had a few more options than Uno, because Uno either goes clockwise or counter-clockwise. I also needed something less complicated that Pokémon.
This is what I came up with.
Download the Nomination Cards pdf
Print out the cards. Cut them up and you are ready to play.
A single set is 20 cards, but you don’t have to use all the cards. You can take cards out or you can add more cards of one type or even add your own cards.
The cards are fairly simple and easy to read because you don’t want to spend a lot of time explaining all the different cards. Maximising production time is far more important than spending time learning what each card does.
The only cards you may have to introduce before playing are the free pass and if you have low-level students the random card, but the hopefully the images should help.
How to Play
Divide the class into groups of 4-6 students. Let the groups decide who will speak first.
Introduce a topic question or a set of questions to the students. For example:
“Which is better – living in the city or living in the countryside?”
Give each group and set of cards and ask them to put the pile blank side up in the middle of the table.
The first student answers the question.
“I think living in the countryside is better because the air is cleaner.”
The student turns over a card from the pile. It reads: “Ask the person on your left.”
The first student turns to the student on their left and asks:
“What do you think, John?”
The second student gives their opinion and turns over a card.
John turns over the card that says ‘keep talking for 1 minute.’ He continues or makes a new points and after the time is up he can turn over another card to choose another student in the group.
When the students have finished discussing the topic or all 20 cards have been used they can either report what they discussed to the teacher or another group, continue the discussion by building on what they have already talked about or they can continue with a new topic question. Just shuffle the cards and repeat.
The Benefits of Nomination Cards
I think there are several benefits to using nomination cards.
You avoid dominant students because there is a random element, which means students who are shy are more likely to be included and involved.
It avoids students feeling like they have completed the task after saying one thing because they may be asked to keep talking about their opinion, or explain it again.
It avoids the teacher feeling like they have to maintain the discussion of reluctant speakers and the activity should teach nomination skills. Hopefully, with the aim that students will continue to have discussions in this way without the help of the cards.
Although this starter set is quite simple, you can expand upon it, change the rules, and develop new ways of running the activity.
If you have any comments or suggestions about these cards, please leave a comment.
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Thanks for reading and take care!
The nomination cards were created in Microsoft® Word® 2013, the images were created in Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2013 using both standard and custom shapes.