As teachers seek to cultivate their students’ questioning and discussion skills, as called for in component 3b of the Danielson Framework, they often turn to structures that are designed to promote conversations in classroom. There are many tried-and-true protocols that teachers use to help students frame their dialogues, but lately I’ve been playing with a real-world classic: speed dating. The speed dating protocol can be modified in many ways for a wide range of classrooms: the teacher can manipulate the duration and number of the conversations, the physical layout of the room, the delivery system for the prompts, and, of course, the prompts themselves.
In a 12th-grade ELA classroom at Fordham Leadership Academy, I wanted to kick off a unit on personal essays by inviting students to brainstorm responses to some of the prompts from the Common Application. Seeking to avoid using what the students called the “same old protocols,” I shook things up by inviting students to have a series of “speed dates” in which their conversations would be guided by those essay prompts.
Here are the main moves: