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First Turn, Last Turn

Group of people brainstorming

Group of people brainstorming (leremy, iStockphoto)

Group of people brainstorming

Group of people brainstorming (leremy, iStockphoto)


This strategy helps students collaborate and practice active listening by taking turns to offer insights without cross-talking.

Why use it?

  • To help students practice taking turns to give everyone a chance to share ideas
  • To allow students to hear various perspectives
  • To support listening to understand as opposed to listening to respond
  • To foster listening through synthesis

Tips for success

  • Consider designating the starting speaker. These individuals set the tone for the remainder of the group. Their positive modeling increases the likelihood of honoring the process.

How do I use it?

  • Students read /listen or view a video, article, or other piece of content.
  • Afterwards each student should identify 2-3 items.
    • Items could be points of agreement, points of disagreement, provocative statements, interesting facts or curiosities.
  • Break students into groups of 4 to 6. Each group structures their discussion using the following framework.
    • Round 1
      • Choose the first speaker. That student shares one item, not indicating why they chose it.
      • The next person comments on that item. Each participant in that group comments on that same item.
      • Finally, the original speaker indicates why they chose that item and offers original and perhaps new insight from what their peers shared.
    • Round 2
      • Another student begins the second round, indicating a chosen item and everyone takes a turn commenting about that item, finishing again with the original speaker of the second round.
    • Continue until all students have had a chance to initiate an item found in the piece of content.
  • Emphasize that there should be no cross-talking during the sharing
  • Reconvene the full class for reflections on this process or the content shared.


  • Summarize the piece of content together as a class. Then, provide students with options to choose from for their 3 ideas. This way they do not need to brainstorm those ideas on their own.
  • First Turn, Last Turn Recording Sheet Reproducible [Google doc] [PDF]

Create Your Own

  • First Turn, Last Turn Recording Sheet Reproducible [Google doc] [PDF]


Adapted from: K20 Center. (2020). First Turn/ Last Turn.