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Teach back challenge

Not too long ago, I learned about the term “teach back.” It’s when students teach what they’ve learned back to other students. This is a great way to ensure that folks really learned their stuff–learned it so well, in fact, that they can share it with others.

When I read about Garry Duncan’s reinforcement game for the end of a learning event, it reminded me of the effectiveness of this method.  He says it takes a little longer to close the day, but this method is very effective because everyone gets involved, they review their notes, have fun, and are more successful at remember key points.  Here’s how it goes:

  • Form your group into teams of 6 to 8.
  • Have them appoint a captain and pick a team name.
  • Each team chooses 7 questions (5 will be used, 2 are for back up) on anything that was covered in the session. Workbooks or handouts can be used to create the questions, as their goal is to stump the other team.
  • Teams rotate asking questions and score when the opposing team cannot answer the question.
  • Trainer is judge on all answers and questions.
  • Once the game starts, books and notebooks must be closed.
  • The team giving the answer gets 60 seconds to agree on their FINAL answer.
  • NOTE: For larger groups you will need an assistant to run 4, 6, 8 teams etc.

Posted on LinkedIN by Garry Duncan

Pick-and-Pass Helping Hands

Reminder Hands

If you don’t have too much time, but like the teach back idea, this quick exercise also sets up a dynamic where students are learning from each other. This one involves the use of Reminder Hands or some other iconic objects placed in a small box.  If using the Reminder Hands, the trainer might write one keyword prompt on each of the stress-reliever hands.  Ask each student to pick one item out of the box and share one recollection about the concept or one idea they hope to remember going forward. Pass the object from person to person until everyone in the group has made a contribution.

Alternatively, set it up as a group activity. Have a delegate from each table pick a hand. Request that each table come up with a synopsis (or even create a poem!) of the key points, which they will later present to the rest of the group.

Double Jeopardy

We’ve also heard from trainers and teachers who love the idea of a playing a Jeopardy-like game, but simply don’t have the time to create all the questions. So, instead of taking the time to  make up questions themselves, they challenge their learners to do the “heavy lifting.”

Game Set-Up

  • Break your groups into 5 teams (because Jeopardy games often have 5 categories of questions).
  • Assign one category to each team.
  • Have each team come up with 5 questions of varying difficulty (point values of 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500).
  • Voila, you have 25 questions.

Playing the Game

  • Play as you would any Jeopardy-like game. However, teams cannot select their own category when choosing questions, or they will be disqualified. Facilitation notes can be found here.

Click here for Jeopardy-like game boards that do not require a computer interface.


2 thoughts on “Teach back challenge”

  1. Good ideas… it’s an old truth–the best way to learn something is to teach it. That said, two caveats:

    1. Delegation is not abdication. It is wrong to engage students in “teach back” without closely monitoring what is happening… most learners are not sensitive to things like learning styles and you’ll occasionally end up with some learners more confused than ever.

    2. There is an obvious need for caution when the process starts to become complicated or ends up actually interfering with learning. Not all students will enjoy, for example, “gaming.”

    There is real value in using various techniques including “teachback” both to reinforce and assess learning–each requires the instructor (or facilitator) remain an active participant who insures the process “works” and stays focused on objectives.

    1. Great comments, Walter. Those are, indeed, important caveats. I appreciate your pointing them out.

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