Last week I wrote a post about using nomination cards to give all students a chance to speak. This week I want to look at an activity that could prepare students for discussions. An activity that literally brings students’ ideas together.
I’ve not had a chance to use this activity in class yet, but I wanted to write about it because it seemed interesting to me and I wanted to think through the details. It’s a little selfish, I do apologize.
I was originally thinking of writing about a first day activity where students present five facts about themselves, but that idea reminded about Star Interviews and led me to wonder if students could interview each other and then connect their stars or a pentagram (five-sided) shape together. Then suddenly, I was reminded me of a board game called Settlers of Catan.
If you haven’t played Settlers of Catan before, the board game is a map made up of hexagonal (six-sided) tiles. The tiles can connect in different ways, so the map is never really the same. There is another game that uses hexagonal tiles called Tantrix. The aim Tantrix is to connect lines or loops of the same color.
I don’t need a map and I don’t need to connect colors, but I need an activity that connects students’ ideas together.
Printing the Hex Shapes
Download the Hex Grid PDF and print out a copy.
There are six hex shapes on an A4 page. Cut out the six individual squares and stack them so you create a pile. Take your pile of squares and cut the shaded corners to make your six hexagonal shapes. It’s just faster than doing it individually. No one wants to spend too much time cutting.
Using the Hex Shapes
Step One: Introduce a discussion topic or question to your class.
Step Two: Give each student some thinking time and ask them to write their ideas on the hex shape.
There are two ways to use the hex shape. The first is the student writes whether they agree or disagree in the center of the hexagon and then they write down as many reasons as they can in the corners of the shape.
The other way is to write nothing in the center of the hex shape and to write a combination of good points and bad points. If they can only think of two bad points, ask them to think of four good points.
Step Three: Although students don’t need to write all six points, the more ideas they have written down, the better. Ask students to work in pairs and share their ideas.
Step Four: Divide the class into groups of 4-6 students and tell the students to form a hex grid and connect their ideas together. This should provide students with plenty of ideas for a discussion.
For example: In the hex grid, there are 6 tiles. 3 tiles that agree and 3 tiles that disagree. Each tile has 6 reasons, so there are 18 reasons why people agree and 18 reasons why people disagree.
I think the hex grid will help students to build up their ideas. There is a difference between this method and a Venn diagram or a mind map. Students can take their hex shape and form new groups. A different selection of hex shapes, a different selection of ideas, would hopefully bring about a different kind of discussion.
I also think the hex grid layout with some guidance from the teacher will help students compare ideas. The teacher could encourage students to use the comparative and the superlative and discuss the ideas that are side-by-side in the hex grid layout. Which idea do you agree with more?
You could even bring the ideas of an entire class into one huge brainstorming activity, because you can keep adding more and more hex shapes.
You could arrange the layout in different ways. One way would be to put the people who agree on the left and the people who disagree on the right.
There is no limit other than table space and the amount of ideas you can come up with.
So, what do you think of hex grids as a brainstorming activity? Please leave a comment if you have any ideas or suggestions about hex grids.
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Thanks for reading and take care!
You may also like to read:
Nomination Cards is an activity for ESL discussions that encourages students to nominate each other. The aim of the activity is to give all students a chance to speak and make the discussions more engaging.
Tic-tac-toe is an activity that shows a series of discussion questions to students. The students are able to claim a square by discussing the topic for a time limit. The student who claims three squares in a row wins!
The hex shapes were created in Microsoft® Word® 2013.
This activity was created with the intention of educational use.
If you know of any activity or game for brainstorming that is similar to Hex Grids, please contact us so that we can give appropriate credit.
For more games that use the hexagonal format please visit this website.