Save the Last Word for Me (Remote Learning)


The instructions that follow guide you in using to Save the Last Word teaching strategy to facilitate online small-group discussions during remote learning. Students can complete the activities either synchronously or asynchronously. This strategy requires all students to participate as both active speakers and active listeners. Working in groups of three, students follow a pattern of sharing and discussing their responses to a text. By creating a clear structure for the discussion, this strategy encourages reserved students to share their ideas and ensures that frequent speakers practice being quiet. It can be a useful strategy for helping students debrief a reading, and it can be adapted to allow students to respond to a film or images.

The following questions can help you plan to use the of Save the Last Word for Me strategy for remote learning:

  1. What collaborative digital tool(s) do I want to use to facilitate the activity?
  2. How am I going to deliver instructions to students about completing the activity?
  3. How often am I going to monitor the discussions?
  4. If teaching asynchronously, what is the defined time period I want to set for completing the activity?


  1. Prepare Students
    Determine how you want to introduce your students to the activity (for example, through video or written instructions or during a synchronous meeting). You can adapt and share the Instructions for Students. Then, share the reading students will respond to.

  2. Students Read and Respond
    Ask students to finish the reading before meeting with their small groups. Students should write down one sentence that stood out to them and then write a few sentences explaining why they chose that quote. Share questions with your students to guide their explanation, such as:

    • What does this quote mean to you? Does it remind you of something that has happened in your own life? Or something that you have read or watched?
    • Does this quote relate to something that happened in history or is happening in current events? If so, how?
  3. Assign Groups
    Assign students to groups of three and ask each group to appoint a timekeeper.

  4. Students Share in Groups
    If students are meeting synchronously, they should join the other members of their groups in a virtual breakout room. Students should decide on an order to share their quotes. The first student should read their quote but not their explanation. The other two students should discuss the quote for three minutes. The timekeeper should keep track of discussion times. After three minutes, the first student should read their explanation. Then, repeat this process with the other two students.

    If students are discussing asynchronously, ask them to post their sentences in a document/forum shared by the members of their group. Students should comment on their group members’ quotes, but not their own. Once the time for commenting has ended, each student should post their explanation for why they chose their quote and read the explanations of their group members.

    The following questions can help guide students’ synchronous or asynchronous discussions:

    • What do you think the quote means?
    • Why do you think these words might be important?
  5. Students Complete Exit Cards
    Ask students to reflect on the activity in an exit card. Prompts you might use on an exit card include the following:

    • What went well during this activity? Was there anything challenging or unclear about the activity?
    • Connect: How did the ideas and information in the reading and your discussion connect to what you already know about this topic?
    • Extend: How did this activity extend or broaden your thinking about this topic?
    • Challenge: Did this activity challenge or complicate your understanding of this topic? What new questions does it raise for you?

    This step can be completed asynchronously. Students should submit their completed exit cards to the teacher.


  1. Using Images: This same process can be used with images instead of a text. Give students a collection of posters, paintings, and photographs from the time period you are studying and then ask students to select one image that stands out to them and explain why.
  2. Using Video: You can ask students to watch a video instead of reading a text. Students should choose one quote from the video and explain why they chose this quote.
  3. If you are teaching in a face-to-face setting, use our original Save the Last Word for Me teaching strategy.

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