Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Airplane Landing

Daniel Schwarz, Sharon Dean | Published: September 16th, 2020 by K20 Center


Cover Image

Airplane Landing

When an assignment calls for thoughtful and measured responses, this strategy enables students to reply in an orderly and democratic fashion. Students sometimes shy away from responding after hearing a classmate give a particularly good response to a question or prompt. By ordering responses beforehand, this strategy ensures that students can voice their opinions without feeling intimidated by the answers of those who have spoken before them.

Airplane Landing


This strategy asks volunteers to respond to a given prompt in a randomized order. This established "landing pattern" enables students to respond in a democratic fashion and ensures that all of the students who wish to respond are heard.


  1. When asking a question or giving a prompt, ask for a certain number of volunteers based on the number of responses you think would be appropriate. For example, you might say, "Can I get three volunteers who will respond?"

  2. Let each volunteer draw a card with a number on it, and then allow students to respond in that order. Card 1 will respond first, Card 2 will respond second, and so on. You may use a deck of playing cards, index cards that you have hand-numbered, or any other ordered numbering pattern. Numbering volunteers randomly organizes their responses into a "landing pattern."

  3. Have volunteers stick to this landing pattern. Even if the first volunteer gives an excellent answer, the predetermined order ensures other volunteers have dedicated time to respond. Every volunteer should present, and each response should be judged on its own merit.