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Graffiti Discussions

Graffiti Discussions

I first got the idea for graffiti discussions from a practice, used widely at the High Tech schools, called chalk talks. It’s a simple idea. The discussion takes place, silently, in writing on a wall via markers, chalk or sticky notes. The activity invites all students to participate simultaneously and allows them to see and connect their writing to each other’s thoughts. The conversation builds upon itself, allowing students access from multiple points and emphasizes sharing ideas, rather than winning a debate or being “right.” For the purpose of discussing a class novel, The City of Ember, I developed a format that incorporated reading comprehension skills. Students shared their thoughts, using expo-markers, on a whiteboard via the following modes: Question, Answer, Connection, Significant Passage or Comment.

Graffiti discussions take place while students are reading. Students write questions, connections, passages and comments in their humanities journal and contribute their most compelling ideas to the white board. In order to assure full participation, I float around the class and plant seeds or encouragement, coaxing reluctant students to share their ideas on the wall. The discussions are like rainstorms. They begin with a quiet drizzle (one or two catalysts) and develop into a massive puddle of ideas within 20-30 minutes. As a conclusion to the graffiti discussions, I have tried three activities (journal reflections on excellent strings of conversation on the board, popcorn share outs and gallery walks followed by share outs). The conclusion never seems to match the excitement or equity of the graffiti discussion. I will continue to experiment with this aspect of the activity.

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Description

I first got the idea for graffiti discussions from a practice, used widely at the High Tech schools, called chalk talks. It’s a simple idea. The discussion takes place, silently, in writing on a wall via markers, chalk or sticky notes. The activity invites all students to participate simultaneously and allows them to see and connect their writing to each other’s thoughts. The conversation builds upon itself, allowing students access from multiple points and emphasizes sharing ideas, rather than winning a debate or being “right.” For the purpose of discussing a class novel, The City of Ember, I developed a format that incorporated reading comprehension skills. Students shared their thoughts, using expo-markers, on a whiteboard via the following modes: Question, Answer, Connection, Significant Passage or Comment.

Graffiti discussions take place while students are reading. Students write questions, connections, passages and comments in their humanities journal and contribute their most compelling ideas to the white board. In order to assure full participation, I float around the class and plant seeds or encouragement, coaxing reluctant students to share their ideas on the wall. The discussions are like rainstorms. They begin with a quiet drizzle (one or two catalysts) and develop into a massive puddle of ideas within 20-30 minutes. As a conclusion to the graffiti discussions, I have tried three activities (journal reflections on excellent strings of conversation on the board, popcorn share outs and gallery walks followed by share outs). The conclusion never seems to match the excitement or equity of the graffiti discussion. I will continue to experiment with this aspect of the activity.

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