Educational Resources Lets Talk Science Challenge participants

Teens near a graffiti wall (FatCamer, iStockphoto)

Teens near a graffiti wall

Silent Discussion/Graffiti

What Is It?

This is a collaborative learning strategy which provides students with the opportunity to write their own opinion and make personal connections to a topic/concept, reading, video and/or other medium. Students engage in a silent discussion with their peers by responding to other students’ written responses.

Why use it?

  • To access and activate student’s prior knowledge, stereotypes and preconceived ideas related to certain topics/concepts
  • To introduce, check for understanding and/or consolidate students’ understanding of a topic/concept
  • To provide students the opportunity to make personal connections and state their opinions in writing related to certain topics/concepts
  • To provide students the opportunity to engage in discussions with other students resulting in them expanding their understanding of a topic/concept
  • To allow every student to participate equally and contribution their opinions and beliefs while compiling the collective wisdom of the group
  • To support the development of writing skills

Tips for success

  • To elicit a discussion, choose an article or video that has concepts and/or topics that are new to the group, contains controversial issues and/or has common misconceptions related to the topic.
  • Write a series of statements that are open-ended, thought provoking and could have varying opinions.
  • To ensure there is enough room for students to be able to participate without overcrowding at the posters:
    • Choose the appropriate number of statements.
    • Ensure the posters are appropriately spaced out in the room.
  • Teacher may choose to provide students a set amount of time for their responses and counter- responses.

How do I use it?

  • Choose 6-8 statements, quotes or questions which relate to the topic of study which will elicit a discussion based on the students’ opinions or points of view. These should relate to the article, video or other medium they are going to work with.
  • Write each statement on chart paper.
  • Post the chart paper in various locations around the room.
  • Provide each student with a marker.
  • Students travel to chart paper:
    • 1st time: Students are required to travel silently from one poster to another, writing responses to the initial statement written by the teacher on the chart paper. Students can be instructed to only respond to all or a certain number of statements. This is predetermined by the teacher. Students are encouraged to explain and justify their thinking by providing examples and by making connections to their self and/or other sources.
    • 2nd time: Students travel to the posters again. This time they read others responses to the statements, and then they engage in a written discussion by counter-responding to their peers’ responses.
  • Upon completion, the statement, initial responses and counter-responses are read out loud to all participants and an oral discussion could follow allowing the information to be summarized and/or the development of further questions.

Variations

  • Students remain stationary at their groups/desks and the chart paper moves from one group to another providing students the opportunity to write their responses.

Using this Strategy

Create Your Own

Silent Discussion/Graffiti Questions Reproducible Template [Google Doc] [PDF]

Ready to Use

References

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2003). Think Literacy Cross-Curricular Approaches, Grades 7-12. Toronto, ON: Ontario Ministry of Education.