Okay, when I say silent, I mean silent (except for music playing in the background)! You won’t believe how your students will work during this time. So, I know you are dying to know how to do this (hehe)! It’s super easy to do and can be used for responding to literature, math problems, science, social studies, pretty much any topic!
We used this during a Shakespeare unit. Instead of just asking the students these questions or having them write a “formal” written response to one of the plays we were studying. Simply write the statement or question that you want them to respond to in the middle of a piece of chart paper. I had four questions that I wanted them to respond to about the play. Then I placed them on the tables around the room. I then split them into four groups to begin. I didn’t want them to start with their friends to make sure that they wouldn’t start talking during the activity. I had them each pick either a pen, marker, or colored pencil or their choice. I then explained that they would read the question and write a response to the question using evidence from the text.
They would write in silence. I did have music playing in the background. As they finish, they will then travel to the next table and respond to that one and so on. When they were completely done they were allowed to walk silently around the room and read their classmates responses. We then talked about each of the responses and I asked them if any of them wanted to add something to their responses or tweak their response after reading everyone else’s? We were able to see if someone misunderstood the question or didn’t use evidence to support their answer.
Here are some great sites on Silent Discussions:
I hope that you give this a try. If you are a math, science, or SS teacher, this could work for you too. With all new strategies or lessons, it’s a learning experience to see what works best and what can be tweaked for next time.