Ideas | A random air of mystery

It started with a professional anecdote shared by my student, and resulted in two different lesson ideas.

The anecdote in a nutshell

What do you do if an auction goes on for much too long and auctioneers keep bidding up endlessly? What kind of strategy do you implement to bring it to a close in a way which is fair to all the parties involved, with no rules breached, no hidden agenda deals between auctioneers?

One idea is to have each of the auction participants to decide on their final bid, write it down, put it in a sealed envelope and deliver it on a set date to the auction organiser. It is no rocket science. At the same time, this gimmick is a lesson-design winner for me on two levels.

Idea 1:

Get students to deliever their assignments in sealed envelopes. Let them do it either at the end of the lesson (in-class asssignments) or at the beginning of the next meeting. It works both for individual and group assignments.

Why bother unsealing all these envelopes?

  • The trick engages every single students.
  • Everyone feels motivated to deliver the most desirable outcome (no tweaks allowed after the envelope gets sealed!).
  • Either you stick to the deadline or you are out of the game.
  • The air of selaed-envelope mystery makes the homework collection process more attractive to the teacher and students alike.

Idea 2:

Plan a lesson as a series of tasks. Each task get a number. Each number lands on a slip of paper packed nicely in a box. Each box is different, eye-catching in its own way.

In the classroom, let students decide which box they want to open first, second, third …

Their decisions impact the randomness of the lesson timeline which emerges naturally, triggered by students` choices. As the teacher, you have to navigate the emergent dynamics, adapt as you go and follow the flow, without things getting out of hand. Tricky and fun!

What comes out of a lesson unleashed from a not-so-random collection of boxes, which create a totally random lesson timeline? Can`t wait to test it next week.

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