In a Carousel Discussion or a Poster Walk, students work in pairs or small groups to circulate around the room to answer questions, solve problems, analyze an image or text, discuss a topic, or provide feedback on questions, topics, themes, or problems that the teacher places on poster boards around the classroom. As each group approaches a Graffiti Board or a poster, they discuss what is on the poster and then write their response to the question or problem on the poster. Then, after an allotted period of time, students rotate to another Graffiti Board or poster in the room and follow the same process. This strategy can be used by students in almost all grades, even in lower grades with proper scaffolds in place. It can also be used in any subject area to activate students' prior knowledge, allow them to analyze a topic or theme, have them synthesize learning in a unit, or provide feedback on each other's work.
Select or develop images, texts, problems (see Carousel Activity for Math resource below), or questions (see Carousel Chart for ELA example below) for students to discuss, and determine an amount of time you'd like students to spend at each poster.
Place those images, texts, problems, or questions on separate posters around the classroom.
Arrange students in groups or pairs and, if necessary, have them engage in prior reading or analysis of texts, themes, or topics before the discussion to prepare them for the discussion.
Model the carousel discussion for students, providing accountable talk stems (see resource below) if necessary to support discussion or using a Y chart (see resource below) of what a carousel discussion should look like or sound like.
Have student groups engage in the carousel discussion and write their responses or comments directly onto the graffiti board or poster. After an allotted period of time, have students rotate to another poster until all students have visited each poster or until time runs up.
Reflect on the Carousel Discussion by asking students questions such as:
What did you learn from your partner/group during this discussion?
What did you learn from other groups by reading their comments on the graffiti board or poster during the discussion?
To activate and assess students' prior knowledge about a topic or theme in a unit, teachers can post images, questions, or topics that will be learned or covered in the upcoming unit on Graffiti boards or posters around the room, and have students work in groups to analyze or comment on those images, questions, or topics.
To dig deeper into unit topics, texts, or themes, or to synthesize information learned, students can engage in a Carousel Discussion in the middle or near the end of a unit.
Teachers can use a carousel discussion for students to provide feedback on each other's work. Teachers can post student work around the room and peers can provide feedback on it. For guidance, teachers can ask students to use a peer feedback protocol such as Glows and Grows (see resource below) to provide feedback on their peers' work on the Graffiti Board during the Carousel Discussion.
After viewing a powerful or emotional video, listening to a speech, or engaging in a whole group discussion, students can benefit from being able to debrief their feelings and learnings in a Carousel Discussion format. Teaches can post topics or questions to discuss on the Graffiti Board or posters, and students can talk about those topics in small groups and write their responses on the boards/posters for other students to see and respond to as well.
Students with disabilities that impact their verbal communication skills may benefit from being able to respond to the questions on their own in writing before the carousel discussion so that they can have their thoughts prepared in advance of the discussion. Sentence stems for discussion such as those included in the resource below will help to guide students as they engage in discussion with their peers during the Carousel Discussion.
English Learners would benefit from supports that allow them to practice correct language usage when speaking aloud. Consider providing vocabulary reference sheets or sentence starters to English learners to support them in the discussion. Additionally, ensure English Learners are given additional time to compose their thoughts, either in their head or in writing, before sharing aloud.
How could this strategy support your students to engage in group conversations?
How could you assess your students' conversations during the carousel discussion?
How could you support students to reflect on new learnings after the carousel discussion?
When implementing a carousel discussion, be sure to set expectations for students about what a carousel discussion should look like and sound like. Consider creating an anchor chart.
Also, be sure to decide whether you want students to talk with each other during the discussion or move around silently (talking with their pen). There are advantages to both depending on the topic of the discussion, the purpose of the discussion, and the classroom dynamic.
The most important part of this activity is to reflect on the process. Be sure to take the time to reflect with students on the carousel discussion and think about next steps.
Padlet is a virtual poster board tool that allows students to post topics and respond to them.
Teachers can create a padlet for each topic, theme, problem, or question that they would like students to discuss in the Carousel Discussion. Instead of posting physical posters around the room, teachers can make several padlets and have students engage in the Carousel discussion from their desks or by visiting several computers around the room.
Glogster, like padlet, is a virtual poster board onto which students can post comments, videos, music or images.
Teaches can create a glog page for each topic, theme, problem, or question that they would like student to discuss in the Carousel Discussion, and have students engage in the carousel virtually.
Explore the "Carousel Discussion Act 5 The Taming of the Shrew" lesson by 12th grade ELA teacher Glenda Funk included in the resource section below to see how to implement a textual analysis carousel discussion.
Explore the "Hop on the Carousel" lesson by 12th grade Math teacher Tim Marley included in the resource section below to see how to implement a math problems carousel discussion.
Explore the "Vocabulary Carousel" lesson by 7th grade ELA teacher Taylor Tasha Devries included in the resource section below to see how to implement a vocabulary carousel discussion.
Explore the "Evaluating Research on a Carousel" lesson by 11th grade ELA teacher Erik Sussbauer included in the resource section below to see how to implement a research analysis carousel discussion.
Explore the "Physics Review Carousel" lesson by Physics teacher Anna Meyer included in the resource section below to see how to implement a unit review carousel discussion.