Activities for Stage 2: Defining and responding

If you'd like to suggest an activity to add to this list, please e-mail details to enquiringminds@futurelab.org.uk.

Analysis of activity
Compare and contrast
Diamond 9
Filter for focus
For and against (and in between)
Interviewing activity
SWOT analysis
Thinking hats (Edward De Bono)

Analysis of activity

The teacher asks the students to list or represent in detail all the tasks, actions, objects, performers and interactions involved in a process. For instance, what is involved exactly in sending a text message, or in riding a bike, or making a football boot?

In documenting the minute detail of an activity, gaps or surprises are often presented – new considerations - that may open up further questions or focus the direction of an enquiry. Any gaps or new considerations can be used to drive further research.

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Compare and contrast

Students analyse and list the differences and the similarities between the items they want to make comparisons between. This process can help students to process and make sense of the similarities and differences between two different points of view/arguments.

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Diamond 9

This activity involves arranging nine items or choices into priority order, in the shape of a diamond with the most important at the top and the least important at the bottom. The activity is useful in helping students make choices between competing alternatives. When done as a group, it can encourage negotiation and the clarification of ideas.

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Filter for focus

In pairs or groups students work together to agree the top five most important words in a piece of text, sections on a web page, sub-themes of a topic, and so on. When ready each group takes it in turns to write their key items on the board. Other groups do the same, but can only add words that are not already there. The activity encourages students to focus on the most important aspects of a topic. When working well, it can help students to clarify their understanding of the essential features of a theme or issue.

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For and against (and in between)

This is a simple technique that encourages students to map out all the different sides of an argument before seeking to identify their own position. Just as important is to encourage students to go beyond the ‘black’ and ‘white’ and recognise the grey areas in between. More refined approaches can begin to examine the categories themselves and see whether they represent an adequate view of the theme or issue.

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Interviewing activity

Freelance writer Jerome Monahan has put together some resources designed to help students think about the kinds of questions they might ask in order to conduct a detailed interview, and explore how an article might be structured.

Open pdf version of Interviewing activity - 13 pages, 195kb

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SWOT analysis

In a SWOT analysis students consider an issue or decision and analyse it in terms of its strengths (or positives), its weaknesses (or negatives), what opportunities and what threats it presents. This activity goes beyond simple comparisons by analysing an issue or an argument in terms of its strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities or threats.

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Thinking hats (Edward De Bono)

Edward De Bono’s ‘thinking hats’ each take a different stance towards a question or problem. Students can be encouraged to put on different hats to examine a question from a variety of perspectives. For instance, white hat thinking focuses on the known facts; black hat thinking involves taking a critical stance. Students can be encouraged to analyse and document their thinking and understanding around their topic according to each of the hats.

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