Final Word or Save the Last Word

Use the Final Word protocol to help students understand the value of multiple ideas to support the meaning and understanding of text
28 teachers like this strategy

About This Strategy

Final Word is a discussion protocol that helps students, through a structured group discussion, understand the meaning and value of a text. This strategy is also known as "Save the Last Word." One student, the presenter, shares his or her ideas, thinking, or explanation about a section of text or a topic. Each member of the group listens silently and then shares his or her ideas about the text or topic and what the presenter said. The presenter then gets the final word to share  how his or her thinking evolved based on the rest of the group's ideas and thoughts.

Implementation Steps

30 minutes
  1. Students should work in small groups for this strategy, unless there is enough time in class for every student to be able to speak in a full group. Provide students with a piece of text or information to read.

    • Optional: Create an anchor chart or display the steps of the final word protocol for students to reference throughout the activity. To learn more about anchor charts, consult the "Anchor Chart" strategy.

  2. Have students read and annotate a text, with the expectation that they will share out their findings, ideas, and thoughts about the text they have read.

  3. Designate a time keeper in each group, or be the timekeeper for all groups. Identify one student in the group as the "presenter." The presenter gets an allotted amount of time (generally 2-3 minutes) to present his or her thoughts, ideas, and findings about a designated portion of the text or topic to the rest of the group ("audience"). The audience silently listens or takes notes if needed.

  4. Once the presenter is done, every other member of the group gets one minute each to discuss the presenter's findings as well as to compare and contrast their ideas and findings about the text to the presenter. The audience can also ask guiding questions to the presenter for the presenter to answer during his or her final word.

    • Sentence starter examples for audience members:

      • How do you know...?

      • What's the evidence for...?

      • What would happen if...? Why...?

  5. Once all of the audience members have provided their thoughts and ideas, the presenter gets the final word. During the final word, the presenter gets to share how his or her initial ideas have grown or changed based on the rest of the groups' feedback and thoughts.

  6. Follow steps 3-6 until every member of the group has the chance to become the presenter.

To learn more about this strategy, consult the EL Education Final Word protocol

Distance Learning Use Case for Final Word or Save the Last Word

Kelly Kennefick
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

This strategy can be used during synchronous small group discussions to help students understand the value of multiple ideas to support the meaning and understanding of the text. While best for synchronous discussions, this strategy could be modified using a digital tool, such as FlipGrid, for students to engage in these discussions asynchronously. 

Implementation steps:

  1. Schedule a synchronous learning session with students. 

    • Consider using a platform such as Zoom or Google Hangouts. 

  2. Prior to joining the session, students should read and annotate a text, with the expectation that they will share their findings, ideas, and thoughts about the text they have read during the live session.

    • Be sure to clearly explain what students should complete prior to the live session.

    • If this is new to students, provide guidance, such as a video example, and supports, such as Office Hours, to support students.

  3. During the session, break the students into small groups.

    • If using Zoom, use the breakout room feature. Review the tutorials in the resource section below if you need additional support.

    • If you are using Google Hangout, consider using Padlet and Hangout to create small groups. Review the tutorial video in the resource section below.

    • If you are unable to meet on a live platform, you could utilize FlipGrid to have presenters record their ideas in a video. Meeting live works best for this strategy, but this option could be utilized if needed.

  4. Designate a timekeeper in each group, or be the timekeeper for all groups. Identify one student in the group as the "presenter." The presenter gets an allotted amount of time (generally 2-3 minutes) to present his or her thoughts, ideas, and findings about a designated portion of the text or topic to the rest of the group ("audience"). The audience silently listens or takes notes if needed.

    • If you decide to use FlipGrid, first identify who the presenters will be. Consider identifying a handful of students and their designated groups. Over time, ensure that all students have had a chance to be the presenter. Have the presenters record a 2-3 minute video to present his or her thoughts, ideas, findings about a designated portion of the text or topic. 

  5. Once the presenter is done, every other member of the group gets one minute each to discuss the presenter's findings as well as to compare and contrast their ideas and findings about the text to the presenter. The audience can also ask guiding questions to the presenter for the presenter to answer during his or her final word.

      • If using FlipGrid, students could listen to the presenter and then reply with their thoughts or clarifying questions. The presenter should have clear expectations to respond so that a dialogue forms.

      • Consider setting clear expectations and norms and modeling this with another teacher. This strategy works best during a live session, but can be modified to this format with guidance.

  6. Once all of the audience members have provided their thoughts and ideas, the presenter gets the final word. During the final word, the presenter gets to share how his or her initial ideas have grown or changed based on the rest of the groups' feedback and thoughts.

    • If using FlipGrid, at the end of the dialogue, the presenter should share his or her response.

  7. Repeat these steps so every student has the chance to be the presenter. Due to time constraints with live sessions, it may be best to only have a few students be presenters. Rotate as you move forward with this activity during different live sessions until all students have had a chance to be the presenter.

  8. Ask students to debrief how discussing during a live session went. 

Final Word for Peer Revision

When using Final Word as a Peer Revision strategy, the presenter now becomes the writer and the audience becomes the group of students that will read the presenter's paper and provide feedback. At the end, the writer has a chance to review and reflect on the "audience's" suggestions and make any revisions necessary in what would be a silent final word.

Implementation steps:

  • Have students complete a writing task. Once students have completed the writing task, move students into small groups.

  • Have the students pass their papers clockwise one person, so they are looking at a peers' paper instead of their own. Each student should read another student's paper and provide feedback on the paper or on a separate sheet of paper.

    • Optional: Consider providing students with a template or questionnaire to fill out as they are providing feedback.

  • Continue rotating the papers clockwise until every student in the group has viewed and left feedback for the papers in the group. Once the paper gets back to its original owner, the group is done.

  • Once students have their original paper, provide students with time to silently read the feedback their peers left. Students may want to make revisions to their paper based on the feedback left by their peers.

Special Education Modification

Nedra Massenburg
Special Education Modification

Use of Final Word is an excellent tool for students with disabilities by not only helping them improve their presentation and speaking skills, but also improve their active listening and collaboration skills to develop relationships in the classroom and increase their mastery of concepts.

Final Word skills require significant executive functioning skills (including focus, organization, working memory, etc.), written skills, and/or verbal expression skills.  In order to support students with disabilities who have difficulty in these areas, consider the following modifications:

Modifications:

  1. Teachers who use Save the Last Word should be mindful of student disability types and needs in addition to formative data when assigning partners and/or groups; ensure that you strategically pair students to support the development of mastery without increasing frustration. 

  2. For students with disabilities that affect their verbal expression, provide additional scaffolds, such as visuals, talk stems, and manipulatives to support their explanations and justifications. See the "Accountable Talk" resource in the resource section below.

  3. Intervene as a teacher to ensure all students have the opportunity to process what has been said.  Students who benefit from additional processing time or who struggle with short-term memory should be given time during group feedback to stop and jot any new ideas they learned from one peer before moving on to the next students so they don't forget the feedback they received.

  4.  The first few rounds of teaching Save the Last Word usage in a learning setting should end with specific verbal and written feedback from the teacher to the whole class on the level of success in engagement during the task.  This ensures that all learners, and especially learners with disabilities have specific strength and growth areas identified.  

  5.  If multiple teachers are present, careful thought should be put into co-teaching models and how they integrate into a differentiated lesson plan using Save the Last Word. See the "How to Choose a Co-Teaching Model" and the "Differentiation Within the Inclusion Classroom" resources in the resource section below for more information.

     

     

EL Modification

Shannon Coyle
English Learner Specialist

This strategy provides an excellent opportunity for learners to engage their language skills in academic discussion. 

English learners are required to read text, respond to text verbally and listen to and respond to peer ideas. Learners may also need to write in order to record their ideas or their peers. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:

Modifications:

  1. Provide leveled text. English learners at all levels will require comprehensible text to be able to practice this skill. Consider partnering with your English learners’ specialist or your school’s reading specialist to source appropriate text. See the "The Best Places To Get The "Same" Text Written For Different "Levels" resource in the resource section below.
  2. Guide text annotations. Scaffold annotation writing, which is a discrete skill itself, by creating guiding questions written in a language English learners can understand. Have learners answer the questions as their annotations. See the "Teacher Tool: Leveled Question Prompts for English Language Learners" resource in the resource section below for more information.
  3. Post steps. Create an anchor chart using graphic supports of the steps to be followed during the strategy. Refer to the anchor chart while modeling the steps. 

  4. Provide talk stems or frames. Create sentence starters or frames that learners can refer to when sharing ideas, questioning presenters or giving the final word. Provide a word bank of target academic vocabulary from the text or unit to use within frames.
  5. Provide time for notetaking. English learners at all proficiency levels may require time to process what they’ve heard and later synthesize comments when presenting the final word. Add note taking time to the group timer and provide a graphic organizer for doing so. See the "Final Word Note Taking Template" resource in the resource section below.
  6.  
  7. Model and Practice. English learners at lower levels of proficiency may benefit from seeing this strategy in action a few times before taking on the presenter role. Consider delaying a learner’s turn as presenter and seeking learner input before choosing the best time for them to present through a 1:1 meeting discussing their comfort level. Consult with learners’ language specialist for support.