Snowball is an instructional strategy wherein students write a discussion prompt (statement, question, etc.) related to a topic or concept on a piece of paper. The prompt is intended to encourage discussion and/or help them to better understand the subject matter. This instructional strategy can be led, with an instructor question or prompt, but ultimately, the student drives the discussion focus. These prompts can relate to a reading, video, previous lecture or a question about the course content.
Purpose: It can be used as an icebreaker activity, to review content from a previous lesson, or as preparation for a test. The strategy encourages classroom discussion and group cooperation providing students the opportunity to share knowledge and information with each other and the entire class.
SALTISE community members who use this strategy and are willing to share advice and/or resources.
Traditional Classroom with Whiteboards or interactive whiteboards
Classroom size: 30-40
With snowball, students are exposed to “publication” of their knowledge and are given the opportunity to peer review another group’s work. This requires students to cooperate in order to come to a consensus. Because each group presents their findings, students can be exposed to more examples in the time that it takes them to work through one.
When different groups go at a different pace this can complicate how the class is managed. If one group is too far ahead, assistance can be provided to the teams that are lagging behind without hindering the group learning process. If one team is only slightly ahead, they can be provided with additional questions or asked to revisit what they have done.
Gani, S. A., Erwina, R. & Yusuf, Y. Q. (2017). The Effectiveness of Snowball Throwing Technique in Teaching Reading Comprehension. Conference paper: The 1st National Conference on Teachers' Professional Development, At Syiah Kuala University, Banda Aceh, Indonesia...
Marlena, N. (2016). Implementation of learning snowball throwing method to improve student learning outcomes of operation management subject. he 1st International Conference on Economic Education and Entrepreneurship, At Fakultas Ekonomi Universitas Negeri Surabaya..
The Science Teacher (2011). The Snowball Questioning Method..
Incremental learning: ‘Snowball’ Techniques – Teaching Channel (TCH)
“Snowball Active Learning Technique” – TATP creative teaching strategy from University of Toronto
Snowball + Simulation–Two Strategies – Jordan School District’s Professional Development channel
Snowball: An instructional technique – Dr. Laura Elizabeth Pinto, Faculty of Education, University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT)
Spotlight on Strategies: Snowball fight. An instructional spin on a ‘paper snowball fight’. Discovery Education Europe
Group Work – The Snowballing Technique. Blog: Go Back to School.
Group work in the Classroom: Snowball technique – University of Waterloo
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