TeachLaw modules are designed to maximise student engagement, and as such, class activities will fulfill either one of two purposes:

  1. To consolidate information taught and test immediate knowledge retention; or
  2. To encourage a deeper understanding of legal issues through critical analysis and application of content.

Whilst we encourage you to use the class activities designed for each module, it is recognised that there will be situations where these activities cannot be used e.g. due to lack of resources, access to technology, cohort size or due to the needs of the students.

Please keep in mind that there is a risk in designing your own activities as they may not accurately explain or represent complex legal issues. If you would like us to review your class activities for legal appropriateness, please contact us here at least a fortnight prior to delivering your seminar and we would be happy to review them for you. We may also also for permission to publish these reviewed materials to our TeachLaw site as “optional activities” for our modules.

General strategies

We encourage you to minimise the amount of separate activities that are used in one class, and to present it as one package e.g. one activity sheet with a combination of a find-a-word and a cloze passage.

Each of the following activities could be used to test basic knowledge retention:

  • Handouts/summary sheets
  • Cloze passages, comprehension and matching exercises
  • Crosswords and find-a-words
  • Multiple choice and short answer questions
  • Kahoots!

Whilst it is excellent for students to be able to explain their legal rights and responsibilities, our hope is that the take-home from each lesson will be more general e.g. where they can turn to for help, or what kinds of situations may lead to risk-taking behaviour/could help protect against victimisation.

Any time activities of this nature are completed, we recommend that students are provided with the answers, and that you review answers orally. This will increase the likelihood that knowledge is retained and provide students with an opportunity to self-correct gaps in their learning.

Each of the following activities could be used to test critical understanding:

  • Role-playing and scenario-based learning
  • Debates/open class discussion
  • Creating fliers/powerpoints/handouts/presentations etc

We have found that activities that require students to apply the knowledge to a particular scenario and to justify their position have been highly effective. Students have provided feedback on the relevance and usefulness of modules that contain this deeper analytical method.

Given the nuances of applying the law to situations, it is important that students are encouraged to approach these activities with the mindset of understanding, applying and explaining rather than looking to find the “correct response”.

You may also wish to check out our page on assessing students’ learning here.

Strategies for small cohorts

If you unexpectedly have a smaller cohort arrive, or if you anticipate that the cohort will be small, it can be difficult to gauge the pacing of the lesson or how to modify activities. If your lesson ends with a lot of time to spare, we recommend you check out our ice breakers page here for some general class games which might be played to re-engage students after content heavy lessons. In addition, you might consider:

  • Filling time with games. Although games such as heads up thumbs down, hangman, Kahoot! etc should not be used as regular aspects of the program, by having a fun game to end a lesson, students will be brought out from the content heavy aspect of the program and will have better capacity to reflect and absorb the lessons. It will also create a positive association with the lesson and lead to better uptake in the future;
  • Using the space to participate in more interactive activities. A benefit of a smaller cohort is more space to move around. This may mean adapting the activities to utilise the space e.g. acting out scenarios, more group based work, spreading out work stations etc;
  • Utilising collaborative learning and lots of slower paced work to engage shy learners who may struggle in smaller cohorts as they cannot avoid the spotlight as often as in larger groups; or
  • Letting students have greater control in the running of the class e.g. let them suggest new activities, or different ways to direct learning.

Strategies when digital resources are unavailable

Whilst we may often be tempted to forego digital components when they are unavailable, or to convert them into hard copy versions (e.g. to create a paper Kahoot!), it is worth considering alternative ways of approaching classes when you are aware in advance that certain digital resources (such as a computer, internet connection or personal devices) may be unavailable.

Whilst we would recommend that certain activities be replicated in hard copy (e.g. printing out slides), other activities may provide an opportunity to facilitate a different level of engagement. Some examples of ways to overcome a lack of digital resources include:

  • Replacing quizzes etc with interactive games e.g. heads and tails, a relay race, a live game show etc;
  • Conducting demonstrations in front of the class or working in small groups e.g. if an activity requires you to use a website, students might do this in pairs, or might watch you do it at the front; or
  • Role-playing or dramatic scripts can be used to replace or supplement video content e.g. students could be given a scenario to act out, or receive a script of the video and use this to perform in class.

Strategies for differentiation

As per differentiation in many contexts, we encourage teachers to use a range of explicit instruction, and collaborative learning to engage a wide range of learners. In addition, technology should be used as regularly as possible to create an equalising effect. Given the diverse strategies available for differentiation, you may wish to contact Youth Law Australia directly for advise, or to utilise the TeachLaw community here for advice.

Strategies for large cohorts

Surprisingly, many of the techniques used for smaller cohorts can be replicated in large classrooms – whilst the predominant means of managing a large cohort might be to engage in peer-directed and collaborative learning, other factors to consider include re-arranging space to better meet the needs of the classroom. In addition you may wish to use the following activities:

  • Learning stations allow teachers to move students through discrete and digestible bits of content whilst minimising the number of students interacting with material at any given stage – this may be beneficial in considering how to engage all students in different class activities;
  • Breaking up learning with more activities may be beneficial in re-engaging learners. Given that there is likely to be a wider range of abilities, there is more opportunity for students to go off-track or to lose focus and as such, lessons may need to be reformatted to be delivered in shorter, pithier sections to continually pique interest; or
  • Move students around regularly, both to re-engage students and to prevent class disruptions. It is often more difficult to ensure that all content is moved through in larger classes as there is more opportunity for tangents, q & a discussion etc. By moving students through games, you can minimise the likelihood that students will derail the class. It is important to incorporate this movement into the lesson itself so that it does not detract from the content e.g. role playing games, station-based learning etc

We are always looking for new ways to engage with students. If you have used an activity in class that you have found particularly helpful, we would love to hear from you. You can contact us here.

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