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Give one, Get one

Two students discussing a topic

Two students discussing a topic (AJ_Watt, iStockphoto)

Two students discussing a topic

Two students discussing a topic (AJ_Watt, iStockphoto)


How does this align with my curriculum?

This strategy helps students organize ideas and share their thinking with others.

Why use it?

  • To activate and build prior knowledge.
  • To review, reinforce and consolidate new information or content.
  • To facilitate dialogue between students.

Tips for Success

  • If students do not normally move around the classroom during class time, explain the process and expectations.
  • If using this strategy for the first time, limit student movement by having them first share with the person sitting next to them. Then expand to sharing with students situated further away, and then to the entire classroom.
  • Establish signals for when students will stop sharing, move around the room, and find a partner to share with. For example, use music as the signal. When the music starts, students stop sharing and move around the room. When the music stops (after 5 to 20 seconds), students stop and partner with the student closest to them. Alternatively, ring a bell, flash the lights, etc. Avoid using your voice as a signal. If necessary, stop the activity and review the expectations and procedures.
  • Set a clear criteria for who will start sharing first. For example, the student with the longest/shortest hair, the person with the darkest/lightest hair, the tallest/shortest person, the person whose birthday is closest to today, etc. Involve students in determining the criteria.
  • If there is an odd number of students in the room, have the student without a partner join the pair closest to them.
  • To prevent students from only seeking out friends to share with, organize students using an Inside-Outside circle arrangement. Direct the outside circle to rotate around the inside circle by taking a number of steps to their left (e.g., “outside circle, move 3 steps to your left”). Students then share with the student they are randomly paired with. Then have the inside circle move. Indicate which circle shares first.

How do I use it?

  1. Have students draw a T-Chart in their notebooks labeling the left column “Give one” and the right column “Get one”.
  2. In the left (Give one) column, students list as many ideas as they can for the question or prompt you have given them.
  3. After 2 to 3 minutes, ask students to stand up. They are to take their list and something to write with.
  4. Using your signal, have students move around the room. When your signal stops, students pair with the person closest to them.
  5. Using the criteria you provided (e.g., the person with shortest hair goes first) the first student shares their list with their partner. When the first student has finished, the second student shares their list.
  6. Each student selects one item from their partner’s “Give one” list, that they do not already have. They write this in the “Get one” column of their sheet.
  7. When you see that students have recorded their “Get one” item, start your signal to begin movement.
  8. Continue until students have shared 3 - 5 times.


  • After students return to their seats, ask for volunteers to share ideas from their “Get one” list, not repeating any already given. These could be recorded on the board, flip chart, or electronically.
  • After students have shared, ask for other “essential ideas” that should be added to the list.
  • For rooms where having students move around the room is difficult or not possible:
    • Organize students into groups of four around a table or by moving desks so students face one another. Using the T-Chart, under the “Give one” column each student writes 3 to 5 responses to the question or prompt provided.
    • At the teacher’s signal, they pass their list to the student to their right. Each student reviews the list they received. They add one new response to the “Get one” column.
    • At the teacher’s signal they pass the sheet to the student to their right, who reads both lists and adds a new response to the “Get one” column.
    • This continues until each student has their original sheet.
    • When they have their original sheet, each student reviews the responses in the “Get one” column asking for clarification if necessary.
    • Groups discuss their lists and choose one response from each member’s “Give one” column as most important.
    • Teachers could ask each group to list their most important ideas. These could be recorded on the board or flip chart. Check marks could be added to ideas that are repeated by other groups.


Adapted from: Irvine, Judith, Douglas R. Buehl and Barbara J. Radcliffe. (2006). Strategies to Enhance Literacy and Learning in Middle School Content Area Classrooms. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.