String Ball Discussions

[by Yago Moreno, original idea from Isabella Wallace]

You will need 4-5 balls of string.

Divide your set in 4-5 groups of 3-4 students.

Make them discuss a topic: the planning of an essay, advantages + disadvantages of something, what do they know about a certain topic.

 Every time a student makes a contribution to the group discussion, he needs to be holding the ball of string. Every time someone else wants to say something, s/he needs to grab the ball of string, but the previous student does not let go of the string. At the end of the 5-10 minutes discussion, you will be able to see who has participated and who hasn’t in the discussion.


Even better: if a student is not participating in the debate, s/he will realise s/he is being left out. You will know who has contributed to the discussion, how many times…. And the rest of the students will even put pressure on the free-rider to say something!


3 responses to “String Ball Discussions

  1. In 6th form Art crits we use the same method following research into the Harkness Discussion method. The Harkness Discussion is a method of conducting and evaluating group discussion which was developed at Phillips Exeter Academy. We track a map of the conversation to monitor regularity of contribution by students using the maps that I came across when conducting research into monitoring group discussion. It can be very powerful because it visually evidences to your students the dynamics of an effective and ineffective discussion.


  2. Pingback: The Harkness Discussion Method | RGS Learning·

  3. Pingback: The K-W-L Framework for a Lesson | RGS Learning·

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