How can a teacher ensure simultaneous interaction in their classroom? How do you easily and quickly group students? How can one assess the depth of their students’ understanding of a concept? One simple, interactive, and non-threatening way to do this is by using a “Value Line” and a “Folded Spectrum.”

## Folded Spectrum & Value Line (Presentation Slide)

- Participants line up, in a value line, according to how comfortable they are with the topic.
- Participants talk to the people next to them and share why they chose that location.
- The leader finds the midpoint of the line and “folds” the line by having the back half step forward and walk to the front of the line.
- Each person practices active listening sharing the “starter” with the partner whom they are facing.

What would this look like in a classroom? Let’s say we’ve been studying the squaring and cubing of numbers for about two weeks. We’ve had activities and games in Tabor Rotation. We’ve played the 24 Game: Algebra/Exponent Edition each day for practice. Now I ask my students to think about how comfortable they feel about exponential notation. Are they closer to the “Hmmm” side of understanding and still need more experiences with the topic or are they on the “Woo Hoo!” side of understanding and could teach another student all about it?

I ask the students to create a Value Line at the front of the classroom or in the hallway. They need to stand shoulder to shoulder. The “Hmmm” side is on the left and the “Woo Hoo!” side is on the right. After they have created the Value Line for Exponents, they count off from the first person to the last. We find the middle person and ask the last half of the line to step out. The middle person goes and stands in front of the very first person and so on. We have now created a Folded Spectrum.

The the first thing students share, with their new partner, are the reasons why they placed themselves in that location on the Value Line. After sharing their reasoning, they discuss the most challenging part of using exponents and the simplest part of using exponents. After giving the students at least five minutes to share, I give each newly formed pair a real-world problem to solve that uses the concept of exponents.

At the end of the class period, I ask each student to share the most important thing they learned from the activity and from their new partner. The grouping of students in this way has never failed to bring about positive results and an increase in the depth of understanding for the concept being explored–and the responsibility of the learning was placed exactly where it should be–on the shoulders of my students!

“Looking back, you realize that everything would have explained itself if you had only stopped interrupting.” -Robert Brault