Friday, March 19, 2010

Poetry Friday - Discussing Poetry - The Whip Around

One thing I find difficult about conducting in-class discussions is ensuring that all my students are participating.  It is easy for the students who do not like sharing their ideas out loud to sit back and listen to their more outgoing peers share their ideas.  And sometimes, the students who like to talk the most, don't necessarily have the most insightful ideas.  One technique that I have been using this week to make sure that every student in the room contributes is called the 'Whip-Around,' or 'Say Something.'

I first came across this strategy courtesy of Faye Brownlie, but I think it is a fairly common teaching strategy.  I am getting ready to launch my literature circles next week, so the Whip Around is a good way to get students used to participating in discussions -especially those that usually sit back and daydream (I mean listen...) in more informal discussions.

Basically, after students have read the Poem of the Day once on their own and together as a class, everyone in the class has the opportunity to say one thing that they are thinking as a result of the reading.  It can be anything (as long as it's on topic).  I would start with a student at the front of the room, and 'whip around,' snaking up and down my rows, giving everyone a chance to contribute.  Students can see when their turn is coming up, and they can say what someone else said as long as they add on one little bit of their own thinking.  It is fairly informal, but everyone must contribute as oral language is a huge part of our new curriculum, but it is not as scary as a more formal discussion.

I have used this strategy three times this week and by the third time I had everyone but one student say something about the poem, and not "I don't know."

I like to get to hear the ideas of my quiet students...they are often worth sharing...

Stacy has the roundup today at Some Novel Ideas.


  1. What a great idea. I think the quiet students are often people with very active imaginations.

    I was a very quiet student. Partly, it was because after I heard a poem or story, I was so quickly transported into the story I forgot I was in a classroom. By the time I "woke up," people were talking about something very different.

    Laura Evans

  2. yeah - I was a quiet student too.. I found that the larger the group, the less I had to contribute. I was very surprised by some of the ideas my students that I would label as 'weaker' had.