Strategy Share: Graffiti

File:Gluehlampe 01 KMJ.jpgThis is a cooperative learning activity that emphasizes deeper understanding of a topic and reflection. I picked this up from a wonderful professor at Ithaca College where I received my M.A.T.

Materials needed: Chart paper, large classroom space, multicolored markers that are dark enough to be read from a distance.


  • Create relevant discussion questions. Write one question at the top of each piece of chart paper (if you have five questions, you should have five pieces of chart paper; see example below).
  • Post chart paper with questions around the classroom.


  1. Establish expectations: Everyone participates equally, stay with your group, generate lots of ideas, keep voices low.
  2. Number students 1-5 (one number for each piece of chart paper).
  3. Distribute one marker to each group. Each group should get a different color marker.
  4. Assign one group to each piece of chart paper.
  5. Students work with their group to read and respond to the question. Only the person holding the marker is writing.
  6. After 3-5 minutes have passed, ask students to give the marker to someone in their group who has not yet written and rotate clockwise.
  7. Students work with their group to read and respond to the question. Only the person holding the marker is writing.
  8. Rinse and repeat until students have visited each piece of chart paper.
  9. Once students are at the last piece of chart paper, ask students to give marker to someone in group who has not yet written. That student is responsible for presenting the chart paper to the class.

Tip: Offer clear directions and expectations before students begin this activity.

Sample Questions (I used these on the first day of school):

  1. What do you want to learn this semester? Why?
  2. What is the purpose of English? How does it relate to “life after high school”?
  3. What does “respect” look like in the classroom? (Think about what you expect from peers and teacher)
  4. What can you do to make this classroom a safe, respectful and intellectual space?
  5. (A question to introduce students in one class to their first module: How can language be used to discriminate, deceive and persuade?)


This will vary depending on your learning objectives. I create group-work scales if my learning objectives are social in nature (a “4” draws others into the conversation and makes insights, “3” fulfills group role, “2” contributes unevenly and may go off task occasionally). If the learning goal is content-based, I tend to modify a writing scale to suit this activity (students know they need to use complete sentences, cite evidence appropriately, etc.)

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