Round-Robin Activities in Education

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Round-robin is a game used by teachers to informally observe learned information in an interactive and entertaining way. The approach incorporates each student in the class instead of the same three or four students contributing to the class discussion or question-and-answer period. Use the round-robin approach to prepare for assessments, as a transitional activity or as an icebreaker.

1 Reading and Writing

Although experts such as Dr. Frank Serafini from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, suggests that round-robin reading is not conducive to text comprehension and focuses more on the accuracy of pronunciation to avoid class embarrassment, the tactic is commonly used in classrooms. One student begins reading from a textbook, story or chapter book and another is called upon to continue the reading. To include comprehension in the round-robin activity, break up the readings by asking students to summarize the section verbally. Round-robin activities can be integrating into writing as well. Divide the class into groups of four or five and give each student a piece of paper. A one-minute time limit is given to each student, as well as a writing prompt idea. Students take the minute to write. The next time increment is two minutes, allowing students to pass their writing to the left, read what the other student has written and add to their story. After each student has had a turn to contribute to all writings within the group, the members collectively select one piece to be read before the class.

2 Spelling and Vocabulary

Encourage each student to sit at their desks or stand next to them and integrate a round-robin style game in a spelling bee called "sparkle." Going up and down rows of students, the students spell weekly words one letter at a time. When a student is incorrect in the next letter of the word, he must be seated. After the word is correctly spelled by previous students, the next student calls out "sparkle" and the following student is seated. The game continues until all students, except one, are seated. Vocabulary words can be defined in a round-robin game by first spelling the word and then naming its meanings. The game may work best with words that have more than one meaning. Use the spelling game idea from the previous "sparkle" game and allow the next student to define it.

3 Science, Social Studies and Math

Create trivia questions for science and social studies that coincide with the previously learned chapter or unit. The game requires each student to answer a question in a round-robin fashion and accruing points for the class, which is divided into two teams. The winning team when the class period is over may be rewarded with five extra minutes of recess. The game can be used to prepare for upcoming assessments. Allow students to be seated on their desks for a round-robin game involving basic math operations. For example, the first student names any number, the second states the operation, the third calls out another number, the fourth student says "equals" and the final student must compute the equation mentally. If the answer is incorrect, he must be seated. (Example: Student 1: "4" Student 2: "times" Student 3: "2" Student 4: "equals" Student 5: "8".)

4 Storytelling

Fill a pillowcase or a bag with a number of random items from home and the classroom. Students use these items to orally create a story, collectively. In a round-robin fashion, one student takes an item from the bag without looking and begins the story with three sentences using the item. The next student takes a different item and continues the story with her three sentences. The oral story continues until all students have had a turn to contribute; each student must use the previous students' suggestions in creating their portion. Encourage the students to include characters and an ascending plot to a climactic event.