Sunday, March 5, 2023

Google Slides Tier List Activity

I am always looking for ways to engage students in critical thinking and communication.

Recently I have been working on an activity that gets students comparing, contrasting, and prioritizing concepts, as well as defending the rationale for their claims.

This activity is based on something called a "Tier List".

A tier list is a concept that was originally developed in the video game culture where people would rank characters or items from the game based on how important they were. Typically the levels would be letter grades such as A through F, but often with the addition of an S-level that would be the highest rank (from Japanese word for "Exemplary").

Over time people have used the tier list format to rank a wide range of concepts, which I thought would work great for students. What I came up with is a Google Slides "Tier List" activity for schools:
  • It is a high engagement student activity
  • It encourages critical thinking, communication, comparing, contrasting, prioritizing, and defending rationales
  • It can be used in any subject or grade level
  • It should only take 15 to 30 minutes, and can be used multiple times throughout the year with different content.
See below for all the details about this activity including a tutorial video, examples, and templates you can make copies of.

▶️ Tutorial Video (12 minutes)

📋 Activity Overview

The tier list activity is broken up into three parts...

1️⃣ Part 1 - Student Ranking

In the first part of the activity the students will work by themselves.
  • Students get their own copy of a slide deck that will be used for the activity.
  • In the slides the students are given a prompt (topic/concept/question) and the items they are going to rank.
  • These items will also be available on the tier list slide as images or text or both.
  • Each student drags and drops the items on the tier ranking slide highest to lowest based on their opinion of how well each item meets the prompt.
  • Multiple items can be ranked the same, and not every ranking needs to have an item.
  • This should be limited to 3-5 minutes.
During this portion, students think deeply about subject matter concepts, to compare, contrast, and rank those ideas.

2️⃣ Part 2 - Partner Discussion

In the second part of the activity the students will work with a partner.
  • The students will get in pairs and compare their rankings.
  • Most likely there will be several differences between how each student ranked the items.
  • Each student should identify one item they disagree on with their partner, preferably an item that they ranked very different.
  • These items can be different between the paired students.
  • Next each student will identify the item they chose and explain to the other student the reasoning for their ranking.
  • Students can make changes to their ranking after this discussion if they change their mind on something.
  • This should be limited to about 5 minutes.
During this portion, students communicate and defend the rationale for their conclusions with a partner, while also being exposed to the viewpoints and arguments of their classmates.

3️⃣ Part 3 - Class Discussion

In the third and final part of the activity the students will work together as a whole class.
  • Here each student will submit their final rankings through a Google Form that is provided on the last slide of their slide deck.
  • Once the students have submitted their forms, the teacher will display the class results for each item one at a time as a bar graph to determine overall tier rank for each item.
  • As the teacher goes through each item, students may make an argument to the class for or against the final ranking.
  • The class discussion should be limited to 1 or 2 minutes per item.
During this portion, students engage in a full-class discussion on the pros and cons of the class consensus.

📄 Templates

There are two templates for the tier list activity, including a Google Slides template and a Google Forms template. Both are needed for the complete activity. You can get a copy of each of these templates using the links below.

🖼️ The Google Slides Template

When you get a copy of the Slides template you will see that the first several slides just contain directions for you. You can delete these instruction slides before sharing this with your students.

Next you will have a slide where you can type in the prompt for your students, along with a list of the items they will be ranking. For example this could be:
  • Best energy sources
  • Most influential battles of the Revolutionary War
  • Characters in a story who have the most impact on the plot
  • Most important paintings of the 20th century
  • Which animal is the best predator
  • Best adjective to describe a concept (person, place, thing, event, character, etc.)
  • Best graph to represent a particular set of data
  • Favorite position to play in a sport (baseball, football, soccer, etc.)
  • Best adapted animals to live in a particular habitat.
Although when you first introduce this to your students you may want to start with something just for fun, such as "Best fast food restaurants". Here is a link for the "Fast Food" templates if you would like to use this to get your students started - Google Slide link - Google Forms link

Next you will have a slide with the tier list layout. Here you will want to add the items for the students to drag and drop for ranking. You can add the items as images and/or textboxes.

The last slide will have a spot to add the link to the Google Form, where students can submit their final rankings. 

Let's take a look at setting up that Form.

✅ The Google Form Template

The Google Form template is a simple form with one question per item. For each item the student will select the final ranking they chose for that item.

To set up the Form, simply type in your items, one per question. The template is set up for 10 items, but if you need more you can duplicate the last question as many times as needed. If you need fewer than 10 items, then you can delete the extra questions.

Note: The question type is set to "Checkboxes" rather than "Multiple Choice". This is because the checkbox option generates bar graphs for the results, which are easier to read than the pie charts created with the multiple choice option.

Once you have the items added to your Form, copy the preview link for the Form and add that as a hyperlink to the last slide in your template.

🧒 Student Copies

Now that you have your Slides and Form set up, the students can now do the activity. You will want each student to get a copy of the slideshow. You can do this in several ways:
  • Use Google Classroom to create and share a copy of the slideshow with each student.
  • Share the slideshow as "View only" with the students and have them make a copy.
  • Share a "forced copy" link of the slideshow with your students (/copy rather than /edit).

🖐 Do the Activity

You can now work through the three parts of the activity as described before.

Part 1 - Student Ranking
Here each student will rank the items by dragging and dropping them on their tier list slide based on their opinion of how well each item meets the prompt.

Part 2 - Partner Discussion
Here the students will get in pairs to compare their rankings, identify an item they disagree on, and explain the reasoning for their ranking.

Part 3 - Class Discussion
Here each student will submit their final rankings through the Form. You will then display the class results for each item and students may make an argument for or against the final ranking.

🏁 Conclusion

Critical thinking and communication are such important skills for our students to develop and improve. The tier list activity provides a quick, engaging, and fun way for students to work on these skills.

I encourage you to try out this activity with your students, and of course feel free to make modifications to best fit your class. If you do use this activity, I would love to hear how it goes including the topic you used and the results from your students.

Post by Eric Curts
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