This reading / writing strategy can be used in a variety of ways. Use it at the beginning of a unit to activate prior knowledge, during instruction to assess progress in concept development or at the end of a unit to help review for a final assessment.

chart paper, a variety of colored markers

The teacher chooses a topic and creates a series of charts on large sticky poster paper that are alphabetized. Some sample topics?

  • New England, Middle & Southern Colonies
  • Daoism, Confucianism, & Buddhism
  • Causes of the First World War


Arrange your kids into small groups of 2-3 and assign each group to one of the charts. For example, Group 1 would start with the poster paper labeled ABCD, Group 2 would start with the poster paper labeled EFGH, etc. (If you have more groups, simply create more charts with fewer letters on each.)

Give each group a specific color of marker. This allow you to monitor the individual work of each of the different groups. Students are then given one minute to list as many terms, ideas, concepts, etc. that relate to the topic as they can and record them on their chart.

Students then rotate to the next chart, keeping their same marker. Students are given 2-3 minutes to read over the next chart and add more to it. They may also dispute or question anything on the chart.

Students continue this process until they return back to their original chart. Provide some time for students to reflect on the comments and additions made to “their” chart. You could ask students to document their reflection by responding orally to the entire class or writing several brief sentences on their chart.

Another option? This activity can serve as an anchor chart or word wall that can be recorded on and referenced to throughout your unit.