Teaching Tip #10: Whiparound Strategy

Whiparound is an instructional tool teachers can use to check for understanding in a group setting and for summarization. While the whip around strategy may not provide individual, student-level information about understanding, it offers a low threat environment and helps teachers determine if they need to re-teach content to the group. It is a simple closure strategy based on a technique developed by Jack Conklin, by which teachers analyze the quantity and quality of the students’ comprehension of the lesson. It is designed to provide a quick assessment of what students have learned in a class period or segment of a class. The technique serves several functions like helping students recall significant facts, allowing other student comments to serve as review for the rest of the class, and, as an active learning event, drawing students’ attention and building awareness and getting their minds in gear. Begin by making the students sit in a circle with you as a facilitator, among them. Here are some interesting applications of the Whiparound Strategy:

  • Whiparound activities can be provocative discussion starters. One simple way to do it is you pose a question or prompt to the class and then have each student share aloud their quick response. This strategy provides an efficient way for all students in a classroom to share their ideas about a question, topic, or text, revealing common themes and ideas in students’ thinking.
  • Use prompts as a way to elicit students’ responses to a particular text they have recently read or viewed: “What words or phrases come to your mind after seeing/reading this text?” After everyone has shared, you can ask students to report back on common themes that have emerged or on something that surprised them.
  • After reading a long text, instruct students to select one sentence that resonates with them or seems to be an important idea. Have students read that sentence aloud. Be sure to tell students to listen for common themes. It is okay if the same sentence is read more than one time. This exercise can also be done at the very beginning of a class, using the previous night’s reading assignment. In this way, everyone will be able to have some ideas about the text, even if they did not do the reading.
  • At the end of a class or information session (or when changing the topic or activity in a lesson), each student is quickly asked to respond to one of these prompts:
    • State one thing that he or she has just learned.
    • Answer one of three questions written on the board. (The teacher chooses the question, but the students prepare on paper for all three.)
    • Name one question or concern he or she has about the material.


Author: Sonali Bhattacharyya


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