Why do I use a placemat activity?

Placemat is a cooperative learning strategy that begins with students brainstorming individually and then results in them bringing all their ideas together in a small group.  This activity encourages students to engage actively in thinking, and promotes critical thinking skills, which are built upon in the reflection process.  For some students, it is easier for them to participate in the lower risk setting of a smal group.  It also allows students an opportunity to practice building on the ideas of others and combining common thoughts.

How do I use a placemat activity?

The activity begins with a placemat template or by allowing students to create their own.  In each small group, every group member records their thoughts on a particular subject onto their designated corner of the placemat.  After the teacher cues a transition, the placemat rotates to either the right or the left, and the each student will have an opportunity to read and respond to what one of their peers wrote.  Rotation continues in the same direction until each student has had an opportunity to both read and respond to every other student’s writing in their group.

Placemat template

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