Silent Discussion / Graffiti

Education Services / L’équipe des services d’éducation
25 January 2012

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What is a Silent Discussion/Graffiti?

This is a collaborative learning strategy which provides students with the opportunity to write their own opinion and make personal connections to a topic/concept, reading, video and/or other medium. Students engage in a silent discussion with their peers by responding to other students’ written responses.

Why use it?

  • To access and activate student’s prior knowledge, stereotypes and preconceived ideas related to certain topics/concepts
  • To introduce, check for understanding and/or consolidate students’ understanding of a topic/concept
  • To provide students the opportunity to make personal connections and state their opinions in writing related to certain topics/concepts
  • To provide students the opportunity to engage in discussions with other students resulting in them expanding their understanding of a topic/concept
  • To allow every student to participate equally and contribution their opinions and beliefs while compiling the collective wisdom of the group
  • To support the development of writing skills

How do I use it?

  • Choose 6-8 statements, quotes or questions which relate to the topic of study which will elicit a discussion based on the students’ opinions or points of view. These should relate to the article, video or other medium they are going to work with.
  • Write each statement on chart paper.
  • Post the chart paper in various locations around the room.
  • Provide each student with a marker.
  • Students travel to chart paper:
    • 1st time: Students are required to travel silently from one poster to another, writing responses to the initial statement written by the teacher on the chart paper. Students can be instructed to only respond to all or a certain number of statements. This is predetermined by the teacher. Students are encouraged to explain and justify their thinking by providing examples and by making connections to their self and/or other sources.
    • 2nd time: Students travel to the posters again. This time they read others responses to the statements, and then they engage in a written discussion by counter-responding to their peers’ responses.
  • Upon completion, the statement, initial responses and counter-responses are read out loud to all participants and an oral discussion could follow allowing the information to be summarized and/or the development of further questions.

Tips for success

  • To elicit a discussion, choose an article or video that has concepts and/or topics that are new to the group, contains controversial issues and/or has common misconceptions related to the topic.
  • Write a series of statements that are open-ended, thought provoking and could have varying opinions.
  • To ensure there is enough room for students to be able to participate without overcrowding at the posters:
    • Choose the appropriate number of statements.
    • Ensure the posters are appropriately spaced out in the room.
  • Teacher may choose to provide students a set amount of time for their responses and counter- responses.


  • Students remain stationary at their groups/desks and the chart paper moves from one group to another providing students the opportunity to write their responses.


Ontario Ministry of Education. (2003). Think Literacy Cross-Curricular Approaches, Grades 7-12. Toronto, ON: Ontario Ministry of Education.

University of Idaho, Education. (2011). Literacy Instruction in Mathematics and Science for Secondary Teachers. Lessons by Strategy - Silent Discussion. (accessed April 30, 2014).

Starting Points Using Silent Discussion/Graffiti Questions

Ready-to-Use Silent Discussion/Graffiti Questions

  • Silent Discussion/Graffiti: Timothy Brown is Cured of HIV [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Silent Discussion/Graffiti: Reading Between the Lines - The Truth Behind Food Labels [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Silent Discussion/Graffiti: Up, Up and Away! Helium’s Story [.doc] [.pdf]
  • Silent Discussion/Graffiti: Putting a Price Tag – and a Barcode – On Species Conservation [.doc] [.pdf]

Education Services / L’équipe des services d’éducation

This content is provided through Let's Talk Science's Education Services team.

Ce contenu est fourni par l'équipe des services d'éducation de Parlons sciences.

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