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Thought Barometer

This active learning modality can take many forms and is sometimes used similarly to the cooperative learning structure called the value line. Here, we differentiate this technique by showing its value to visually generate critical thought.

By posing two questions back-to-back, we can help learners see misalignment between what they believe and what they practice. For example, in one class session, we posed the statement, “I think it’s important to practice the 4 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle or Refuse.”. We then designated 3 locations in the classroom for agree, neutral and disagree. By using the 3 locations approach, rather than a line, we enabled students to feel less singled out in their opinion.

Next, we asked one student to be a spokesperson for their category. Our example prompt, “Tell us why you feel neutral about this statement.”. We request that all class members practice their collaborative communication skill of listening.

After hearing voices from each group, we then posed the following prompt, “I practice the 4 Rs: : Reduce, Reuse, Recycle or Refuse.” We again designated 3 classroom locations for: always, sometimes and not usually. We asked all students to look at the difference in the classroom distribution. We then asked each group to report out about that difference. An open-ended question we used was, “Why do we see this difference?”

To come full circle with facilitating critical thought using this activity, it can be helpful to have students write a minute paper or make a journal entry about their experience.

In online synchronous sessions, we enjoy using Padlet to engage in Thought Barometer. We have learners place their post-its onto a particular place on the Padlet in order to show where they stand on a statement. 

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