Have students write low-stakes responses to a brief prompt to help get them ready for discussion.


At the start of class, give students time to write down informal thoughts and impressions in response to a prompt, such as “What stood out to you in the reading and/or what was confusing or difficult that we can try to better understand together?” Students can then share these in small groups as a way to jumpstart a discussion. You can also ask for volunteers to share theirs aloud. Sometimes quieter students are more likely to participate if they can read something they have written down.

Further Reading:

Bean – Engaging Ideas, Chapter 6: Informal, Exploratory Writing Activities (2011)

Elbow – Writing with Power (1998)

Psychology Today – The Magic of Freewriting

Composition Forum – The Difficulties of Thinking Through Freewriting

Created by Kaitlin Mondello
Reviewed by Louis Olander

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