Pick a Number


The Pick a Number strategy asks students to read a selection of quotations on a topic and choose one to explore more deeply. Use this strategy when you want to briefly introduce students to several perspectives on a topic and then offer each student the choice of which perspective to discuss and investigate in more detail with their classmates.


  1. Choose a Topic and Quotations
    Decide on the topic that you want students to learn about. It might be an event, issue, or debate from history, literature, or human behavior. Then select at least three quotations (from a single source, such as a novel, or from a variety of sources) that represent different perspectives on the topic. Create a poster for each of the quotations (assigning each a number) and display them around the room.
  2. Students Select a Quotation
    Give students a few minutes to read each quotation. You can have them circulate around the room silently to read each poster, or you might put all of the quotations on a handout for students to review in their places. Then have each student select one of the quotations that they would like to discuss further with a group of their classmates. Once students have chosen a quotation, they should stand next to its poster. If a quotation is chosen by only one student, ask that student to choose again.
  3. Students Discuss Their Quotation
    Now give the groups of students time to discuss their chosen quotations. Many teachers will provide a set of questions to guide the discussion. You might choose to have each group use the same set of questions to discuss their quotation, or you might create questions specific to each quotation. Alternatively, you might have students simply use the Connect, Extend, Challenge strategy to guide their discussions.
  4. Debrief as a Whole Group
    After the group discussions conclude, lead a class discussion in which students report out on their groups’ discussions. Ask students to comment on ideas and perspectives from other groups that felt relevant to their group’s discussion. What similarities and differences did they notice between the various discussions that occurred?

Related Content

Teaching Strategy

Save the Last Word for Me

This discussion strategy helps students practice being both active speakers and active listeners in a group conversation.

Teaching Strategy

Big Paper: Building a Silent Conversation

Students have a written conversation with peers and use silence as a tool to explore a topic in depth.


Refugees and Rescuers: The Courage to Act

Students explore the intertwined personal stories of Jewish refugees who attempted to flee to the United States and the American rescuers who intervened on their behalf.

Teaching Strategy

See, Think, Wonder

Guide students’ analysis of a photograph, artwork, or video with this simple critical-viewing strategy.

Search Our Global Collection

Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice.