Graffiti Writing is a cooperative learning structure that facilities brainstorming and also doubles as a group energizer.
Each cooperative group of 3 or 4 students is given a piece of chart paper and different colored markers. Group #1 might have black markers; group #2 green markers, etc. There needs to be a different color marker for each group so that the teacher can track each individual group’s contribution. If you have small enough classes you can give each student a different color marker and track individual performance, but this is not usually possible.
- Each group is given a different question, topic, issue, or statement to which they respond. All students can respond to the same topic but I find it more effective if three or more different topics are used.
- For a short time period (3-5 minutes), every group writes their “graffiti” (words, phrases, statements, pictures) on their particular topic. For example: Your students have just read the book Who Moved My Cheese; I would use a graffiti sheet for each character and have students describe these characters with words, phases, and pictures. All students in the group write on the same piece of chart paper at the same time. (***It is very important that, as the teacher you monitor total participation to get the most out of this activity.)
- After about three to five minutes, the teacher stops the groups and asks each group to pass their graffiti sheets to the next group.
- The new group with the sheet reads what has already been written or drawn on the sheet and adds additional new information.
- Continue the process until each group’s original sheet has been returned to them.
- Once a group has their original sheet back, as a group, they read all of the contributing comments, discuss them, summarize them, and prepare a brief presentation to the class as outlined by the teacher. I often have the students categorize the comments in order to draw conclusions as part of their presentation phase.
*** A specific outcome must be set by the teacher for the presentation part of this assignment in order for it to be effective.
Graffiti writing works very effectively as an anticipatory set, a closure activity or as an energizer during any lesson where the generation of ideas or the recall of facts is desired. Please encourage your students to draw during graffiti writing as this will motivate students who love to doodle and often are not super productive in your classroom. Also, for extremely large classes the same lesson can be going on twice in your classroom which will result in two groups presenting on the same topic at the end. This keeps both groups and the scope of the lesson appropriate in size and depth.