A lego character holding on to the edge of two pencils.

Ink Shedding

Activity aim: To get students to review / synthesize / draw connections between multiple texts; to review reading in preparation for a discussion;

Materials needed: Each students needs a pen and paper.

Time: 20-30 minutes (or more), depending on the group size

Activity Description
Ink shedding is a way to conduct an interactive “conversation” that gives students a bit more time for reflection, doesn’t require anyone to talk, and (therefore) often allows for new student voices to enter the classroom. It also allows students to review material from a previous class or from the previous night’s homework in preparation for the day’s major activity or lecture, but it can also BE the major activity.

There are many ways to set up an inkshed. Here’s one variation.
1. First, set up the classroom. Depending on whether this will be a whole class activity or a smaller group activity, students should sit in one large circle or several smaller pods.

2. Put students into groups of 5-7. It’s also possible to conduct an inkshedding activity with an entire class, but it will take a longer time.

3. Set a discussion question (or a list of questions) for students to answer in writing. Alternatively, ask students to identify a passage from last night’s reading that was either confusing or striking. The student should write their name and the passage at the top of the page, and then write a short paragraph about what they noticed or what was confusing.

4. After about 5 minutes of writing, students should pass their paper clockwise.

5. The student who receives their peer’s paper should respond to what the peer has written. This is not a peer critique: it’s an extension of the conversation.

6. Students continue to respond and pass their papers to each other until time is up or until the papers have made their way back to their original owners.

7. A follow-up activity to this could be a response where students reflect on what they learned (either in writing or in pair conversations).

This activity is adapted from the website of Russel Hunt. Click here for a longer description of the activity.
Image credit: Tim Norris