Gallery Walk (ice breaker activity)
As participants in a course or workshop arrive at the first meeting, they can
be grouped in 2s or 3s, given marker pens, asked to introduce themselves to
each other, and directed to one of a number of flip chart stations. Each flip
chart has a question. Participants review the answers already contributed by
any previous groups and add their own, then move on around the stationa. As
the first groups returns to where they began, volunteers are asked to summarize
the main themes and contrasts on one of the flip charts. They present these to
the whole group, with the aid of an overhead transparency or simply as they
stand by the flip chart in question. A sheet listing the questions can be
distributed for participants who want to take notes.
This activity exemplifies the principles that people already know a lot,
including knowing what they need to learn, and, if this knowledge is elicited
and affirmed, they become better at learning from others.
Example 1: Gallery Walk Questions for Class 1 of Evaluation of Educational
Example 2: Gallery Walk Questions used at the start of a year long professional
development course for math and science educators to promote inquiry and
problem-solving in a watershed context.
- What changes (big & small) are being pursued in teaching, schools, and
- What kinds of experience prepare teachers, administrators, and policy makers
to pursue change in constructive ways?
- What things would tell us that positive educational changes had happened?
- What do you hope will come from this semester's experience?
insert excerpt from patton briefing
Here are the specific reasons for using the Gallery Walk given by the hosts of
the STEMTEC workshop (http://k12s.phast.umass.edu/~stemtec/) where I first
experienced this activity:
- What factors (big & small) are involved in maintaining healthy
- What watershed issues might translate well into math. and science
- What pressures & challenges do you see facing teachers wanting to
improve math. and science teaching?
- What has helped you in the past make improvements successfully (+), and
what has hindered you (-)?
- What things would tell you that positive educational changes had
- What kinds of things do you hope will come from this course/ professional
"A useful classroom practice--
- Breaks the ice and introduces students who might otherwise never interact.
- Begins the community-building process so central to cooperative learning
and emphasizes the collaborative, constructed nature of knowledge.
- Suggests to students their centrality in the course, and that their voices,
ideas, and experiences are significant and valued.
- Allows for both consensus and debate - two skills essential to
knowledge-building - and facilitates discussion when the class reconvenes as a
- Enables physical movement around the room, an important metaphor for the
activity at the course's core.
- Depending on the gallery walk questions, provides one way for the
instructor to gauge prior knowledge and skills, and identify potentially
significant gaps in these.
- Depending on the gallery walk questions, provides a way to immediately
introduce students to a central concept, issue or debate in the field.
- Through reporting back, provides some measure of closure by which students
can assess their own understandings. "