#7: Say Something

(Short et al., 1996)

Purpose: This activity provides students with an opportunity to engage with a text and then respond to it in a low risk situation. It can be used as a tool to build further activities on. This is also a great activity on those days where no-one seems to have done the readings you planned your lesson around!

Procedure: Typically students read a text up to a set point (e.g., the first page, the end of a section). Then they pause and “say something” about what they’ve read to their partner. They may, for example: summarize the section; identify a key point; make a connection to their own work; share their thinking about a new idea or raise a question about a concept or strategy presented. At this point you can combine pairs to have students engage in group discussion, have them repeat the process to the next stopping point, or bring the conversation back to the class as a whole.

Instructions for Students

  1. PAIRED READING (~15 MIN): Read the text provided up to the point marked A. When both you and your partner have read the section, pause and “say something”. You may: summarize the section; make a connection to your own teaching or learning experience; or raise a question or concern about a concept or strategy presented. Now repeat the process: continue reading to the point marked B, then stop and “say something”. Repeat again with the final section (time permitting).
  2. GROUP DISCUSSION (~5 MIN): Combine with another pair. Share the most interesting points that came up about the reading in your paired discussion with the rest of the group. Are there any common points that stand out?
  3. EXTENSION (~5 MIN): Continue your discussion in the larger group.

Tip: This activity can easily be adapted for large scale classrooms. There are some strategies that would make this process easier:

  1. Dividing students up into groups has the potential to take a long time. Give clear instructions about the division as you don’t want them to move too much and so making a suggestion that they turn and pair with someone sitting in front or beside is a quick way to do this. Once they have their pair, distribute the readings.
  2. When you are changing over to the small groups (i.e., 2 pairs), instruct students to turn to someone at their table or in the near vicinity.
  3. You can put a stopwatch on the projector so students have access to the same timing that you are using.
  4. If you do not have enough time for a larger group discussion about the issues, assign questions for students to answer in an online discussion board or through an assigned reflective journal due online before the next class. Once you have read student responses, you can summarize the main points in the next class.