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Two Stray, One Stay

This collaborative strategy gets students moving around the room while working with classmates to solve problems and answer questions. This also allows all students the opportunity to “be the teacher,” which students love to do. As students talk about their ideas and thinking process with others, it helps them develop a deeper understanding of the concepts at hand.

How to use

1. Group

Arrange students into groups of three and assign each student a number, either: 1, 2, or 3. Then assign a letter to each group.

2. Assign

Give all groups the same assignment. This could be a task to perform, a problem to solve, or a question to discuss. Tell the students that after a certain amount of time, they will each be going to another group to share how their response to the assignment. Every group member needs to be able to talk about their response.

3. Move

After groups have had their chance to formulate their response (adjust according to the task performed), have all students who were numbered 1 stand up. They will rotate to the group next to them. For example, Student #1 in Group A will move to Group B and Student #1 in Group B will move to Group C. Then, have all students who were numbered 2 stand up. They will rotate two groups. For example, Student #2 in Group A will move to Group C and Student #2 in Group B will move to Group D. Student #3 stays in his or her original position.

4. Interview

In their new groups, students interview one another about how their completed the assignment. Everyone should take notes and prepare to take the new ideas back to their own original group.

5. Return and Share

After five to ten minutes (depending on the complexity of the assignment), all students return to their original groups. As the original group of three, they will each share what they learned from the other groups they worked with.

*For elementary, “One Stray” is an easier strategy to grasp. Instead of 2 people leaving the group, only one does.

When to use

Use Two Stray, One Stay to encourage group discussion and collaboration among students:

  • During Guided Practice so students can work as a group to practice what they just learned
  • With open-ended or controversial questions after reading a text
  • To solve a math problem in a variety of ways, explaining their thinking and process steps
  • To compare/contrast conclusions to a science experiment
  • As a test-prep strategy for answering difficult, simulated and/or released questions
  • As a closing activity so that students can synthesize important points in the lesson – or apply what they’ve learned in a new situation

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