Daniel SanGiacomo

aka Daniel Aktas

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Compounding Interest Group Activity

This is another tool used by one of my professors for small group activities. My teacher didn’t have a name for it so I just called it the compounding interest activity. Not all students are the strongest vocal communicators and this format offers another way to form a conversation between students.

The procedure looks like:

  1. Each student has a piece of paper and responds to a prompt related to the class curriculum and ideally a prompt chosen by the group.
  2. Students form small groups of 3-4 and pass their paper in one direction and respond to the most recent student’s response on the page.

With this activity, students can write their own ideas, read articulated responses from classmates in their group, and form their own opinions.


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Student to teacher Journal

In one of my graduate art education classes, my teacher constantly incorporated techniques she includes in her own high school class. One of the tools that stood out to me was the student teacher journal. It was really just  a few lined pages but I had the opportunity to have a direct thoughtful conversation with my teacher. Something that I could only get in piecemeal after class or through email. I love this activity because it gives me the format to get to know my students individually outside of the group dynamic.



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i wish my teacher knew

“One day, third-grade teacher Kyle Schwartz asked her students to fill–in–the–blank in this sentence: “I wish my teacher knew _____.” The results astounded her. Some answers were humorous, others were heartbreaking–all were profoundly moving and enlightening. The results opened her eyes to the need for educators to understand the unique realities their students face in order to create an open, safe and supportive place in the classroom. When Schwartz shared her experience online, #IWishMyTeacherKnew became an immediate worldwide viral phenomenon. Schwartz’s book tells the story of #IWishMyTeacherKnew, including many students’ emotional and insightful responses, and ultimately provides an invaluable guide for teachers, parents, and communities.”



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Trading Card Icebreakers

As a high school student, I found the most annoying first-day procedure to be introducing 24 plus students with their name and a token item about themselves. I was never ready to open up to a class on the first day, I could never remember all the names, my token line was always some throw away generic thing. There are other formats to introduce students. One of my favorite icebreakers is trading cards! With this activity, each student starts by making their own trading card with their name, a drawing, their favorite movie, and any other information about themselves. Then the students get up and circulate around the room in 2-minute intervals to trade cards and get to know their classmates.pokemon-cards-worth-00.jpg

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What is exploratory talk?

Outlined by Douglas Barnes in Cycles of meaning: Exploring the potential of talk in learning, Exploratory talk is the opposite of everything I had expected students to say when answering a question in class. Exploratory talk aka seminary talk topples the notion that responses have to be perfectly correct vocal answers. Using exploratory talk students can talk through their ideas and are given the space to verbally re-experience and sort their thoughts where they may or may not form a conclusion. Working in this format is ideal for my classrooms where I encourage a community that actively listens and responds to each other. Here is an artifact from a high school lesson introducing exploratory talk. With the categories of talk omitted my students were asked to name this kind of open discussion we would be using during discussions.