Skip to Main Navigation Skip to Section Navigation Skip to Main Content Skip to Footer

Teaching Techniques

Here we demonstrate a few of the most common pedagogical techniques used in youth programming: brainstorming, small group activities, and role playing. Watch the videos for examples of both weak and strong facilitation. You can rate each performance by downloading the checklists provided for each technique.


Brainstorming is a great technique for generating ideas and lists. In brainstorming, all ideas are valid, accepted, and recorded. This method encourages broad participation. It also helps students consider all possibilities. In this pair of training videos, one version is exemplary — and one definitely is not! Watch for the key steps listed below, and download the Brainstorming Checklist to rate the facilitator's performance in each video.

Don't do this...

Do this...

Use these steps for successful brainstorming activities:

  1. Start with a question to invite comments.
  2. Allow youth to say anything that comes to mind.
  3. Allow students to share as many ideas as possible.
  4. Allow repetition.
  5. Accept statements; do not evaluate statements.
  6. Do not discuss suggestions.
  7. Encourage participation.
  8. Encourage building on others' ideas.
  9. Allow periods of silence.

Small Group Activity

Structured group activities encourage cooperative learning. Facing the same issues, youth solve problems together; they analyze, reflect, integrate, and generalize information. Small group activities may also allow for observing and practicing skills in a nonjudgmental, emotionally supportive environment.

Don't do this...

Do this...

Use these steps for successful small group activities:

  1. Explain the purpose of the activity.
  2. Set definite limits.
  3. Give clear instructions and examples.
  4. Assign youth to groups.
  5. Assign roles within groups.
  6. Check in with youth for understanding.
  7. Encourage equitable participation.
  8. Remind youth of remaining time.
  9. Allow time to process activity.
  10. Allow periods of silence.

Role Playing

Role playing is used to give young people an opportunity to practice skills. Role plays may be scripted or unscripted, depending on the program.

Don't do this...

Do this...

Use these steps for successful role play:

  1. Explain purpose of role-play.
  2. Explain feedback process.
  3. Set and follow norms.
  4. Start with low-risk situations.
  5. Choose volunteers for the role-play.
  6. Set the scene.
  7. Assign observers and explain their task.
  8. End the situation.
  9. Allow observers ample time to complete observation form.
  10. Allow time for discussion.
  11. Give positive feedback.