Clay doll figure holding a pinwheel

Pinwheel Discussion


Activity aim: promote discussion and public speaking skills; keep students on task during group work; encouraged engagement with course material prior to class; cover several related topics in one class period;

Materials needed: Nothing

Time: 20+ minutes

Activity description: Students are divided into several (usually 4) groups. Each group is assigned to represent a specific point of view. Members of one group are designated as “provocateurs,” tasked with creating questions for each topic/group and making sure the discussion continues.
Picture of desk set up for pinwheel discussion

One person from each group (the “speaker”) sits in a desk facing speakers from the other groups, so they form a square in the center of the room. Behind each speaker, the remaining group members are seated: two right behind the speaker, then three behind them, and so on, forming a kind of triangle. From above, this would look like a pinwheel.
The four speakers introduce and discuss questions they prepared ahead of time (this preparation is done with their groups). After some time passes, new students rotate from the seats behind the speaker into the center seats and continue the conversation.


  Image Credits:Patriot Pedagogy & JD Hancock