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Spotlight on Strategies:Paper chat

Write essential questions relating to topic on large sheets of paper and display. Ask students to review each of them and discuss with a partner. Watch the video, subsequently students should visit each question and respond silently. Allow time for students to revisit each question, having a silent paper chat, adding notes, highlighting or circling comments that they agree with or pose additional questions to their peers' responses. Review the comments and questions from each sheet that resonate the most.

Big idea

Paper chat is a cooperative teaching and learning strategy that enables students to take part in group activities. Use this strategy when there are broad essential questions that engender deep discussion and everyone in the room needs to be involved without judgement. The Paper chat strategy helps students develop critical thinking and communication skills, in addition to developing patience and respect.

Overview of strategy



large sheets of sugar paper (enough for each group of students to gather around one comfortably), markers, video segment on relevant topic

  1. Distribute large sheets of sugar paper around your room.
  2. On each paper, write one essential question regarding your unit of study.
  3. Introduce this strategy to students by reviewing each of the questions and providing them a few minutes to discuss their initial thoughts with a partner.
  4. Explain to students that they will watch a video segment that will provide additional and supporting information to help them form responses to the essential questions.
  5. After the video has concluded, ask students to visit each piece of sugar paper and respond to each question, writing in silence.
  6. After students have responded to each question allow time for students to engage in a silent paper chat by revisiting each question and adding notes, highlighting or circling comments with which they agree, or posing additional questions to their peers' responses.
  7. As a whole class, review which comments and questions from each sheet resonate the most.
Sum it up

This strategy is an effective way to encourage a group discussion about the content. What new ideas did they consider? Was there a consensus? Did the discussion prompt new questions?
It is also effective for helping students move from a superficial level of understanding to a much deeper level of thinking and responding to questions.

More ideas
  • Use online notice boards, or other online sharing formats to create a collection of different types of resources (videos, images, audio files, etc.) and allow students to explore more.
  • Leave the papers posted, or bring out throughout the unit, for students to continue adding supporting evidence.
  • Use online tools, like Padlet, to host a digital paper chat.

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