About This Teaching Strategy
This discussion strategy uses writing and silence as tools to help students explore a topic in depth. In a Big Paper discussion, students write out their responses to a stimulus, such as a quotation or historical document. This process slows down students’ thinking and gives them an opportunity to focus on the views of others. It also creates a visual record of students’ thoughts and questions that you can refer to later in a course. You can use this strategy both to engage students who are not as likely to participate in a verbal discussion and to help make sure that students who are eager to talk and listen carefully to the ideas of their classmates. After they participate in this activity several times, students’ comfort, confidence, and skill in using this method increases.