SOTW: Sentence Phrase Word Discussion Strategy

27009597This semester I have been sharing all sorts of discussion strategies with teachers in my building to encourage them to move on from “teacher-led” discussions and increase student engagement and participation in class.  The strategy I shared this week comes directly from Walsh and Sattes book, Questioning for Classroom Discussion.  Their book is phenomenal and filled with strategies that are easy to implement.

Sentence-Phrase-Word Discussion Strategy

Purpose: Students will identify important ideas in a text and participate meaningful structured small-group discussion.


  1. Students read the assigned text all the way through.
  2. On a 2nd close read, students are asked to highlight three things:
    • a sentence that is important to the meaning of the passage.
    • a phrase that is meaningful to them.
    • a word in the passage that seems particularly powerful, summarizes the reading, or captures the main idea.
  3. Students meet in groups of 4.  One student in each group is assigned the facilitator role.
  4. Facilitator asks one student to share his/her sentence, point to where it is in the passage, and explain why it was selected.  The group members read the sentence silently and compare it to their own sentence. Repeat with each of the four group members.
  5. Facilitator leads the group through the following discussion questions:
    • What commonalities do these sentences have, if any?
    • What is the common thread (or theme)?
    • Which one of the sentences best speak to the meaning of the passage?.
  6. Group comes to a consensus and shares their sentence with the class.
  7. Repeat 4-6 to share phrases and words.
  8. At the end, the group looks back at the reading and ask:
    • Did we miss any of the major points of this reading? If yes, explain.
    • Do we want to add a word or phrase to our discussion summary? If yes, discuss and add.
  9. As a group, the students complete the group summary of the article they have read.  It should incorporate the main ideas that the group pulled out during their discussion.


To access the graphic organizer on Google, click here:


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