Chinese whispers

This is a simple activity that I made up for use with some year 10s. The students had to learn some small paragraphs of information on evidence for evolution and I couldn’t think of any other way to do it.

The activity involves the students getting into groups of 3 ideally. Each student is given a number 1, 2 or 3, and then has a piece of information to learn and memorise in a given time period (5 minutes or so).

After the students have memorised their information:

• the number 1 students have to teach the number 2s all of the information they learnt (it is important that the number 3s cannot hear this section).

• then the number 2’s have to pass on the same information to the number 3s

• finally the number 3s have to pass this information back to the number 1s – the point of this is so that the number 1s can correct the information or add anything that has been left out (number 2s should be involved in this section too)

If this is repeated again with the number 2s starting, and then the number 3s, then it means that each student has had to memorise, and then pass all 3 sections of information – but in a more interesting way that also allows feedback and improvement if necessary.

The students who did this activity with me enjoyed it and were able to learn the information effectively. The test for this came during a speed-dating activity a few weeks later where the students remembered this section of the topic particularly well.

The 3 questions given to the students were:

1. What were the first living things? And when did life start?

2. Where did life start?

3. Why did organisms get bigger?

Poppy Saltonstall


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