One of the seemingly easiest routines, the Headlines Routine is none-the-less extremely powerful. This routine asks "thinkers" (isn't that a nice way to think of our students!) to summarize or capture the essence of an event, idea, concept, topic, etc. in a newspaper type headline. Basically, students should ask themselves, "If I could capture the most important aspect to remember from this ____, what would the headline be?"
Summarizing is a powerful review strategy and is a great method of determining whether a student has grasped the main idea or the heart of a story or lesson.
My friend, Cindy Brock, introduced me to Big Huge Labs, a terrific website with many very easy to use templates with which students can create fun visuals to display their learning. Best of all for teachers, it is free, and they offer an educational account where student accounts can be created without e-mail addresses. The educator account allows the instructor to review student work and to save the work on personal computers (note the site only saves work for a few weeks). The educator account requires proof of the instructor's educator status and approval from the website administrators. I received my approval within two hours of applying for educator account status.
Several of the templates work marvelously well to showcase student thinking with the Headlines Routine. The first template is the Motivator Poster template. After reading the story Koala Lou byMem Fox, students had to come up with a headline that summarized the theme or main idea of the story. They then had to "justify" or "explain" their headline with evidence from the text. This is one of the students' creations.
The Headlines Routine can also be used to review the most important ideas or facts in a content area lesson. For example, the assignment below asked the student to create headlines for some of the most important ideas from her study of the French Revolution using the Magazine Cover template from Big Huge Labs.
For both assignments, the technology is incredibly quick and easy to produce when students have completed the "thinking" portion of the assignment beforehand. The most time consuming part of both assignments is finding photos or art in the public domain or licensed under a Creative Commons' license.