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Whip Around

This strategy actively engages students and encourages participation by all. Students write down responses to a question or prompt given to them by the teacher and quickly share their responses with the class. Students have to pay attention and listen closely to their classmates’ responses to compare them to their own.

How to use

1. Question

Pose a prompt that has multiple answers. Have students write down as many responses as possible.

2. Whip Around

“Whip” around the room, calling on one student at a time. Have students share one of their responses. When called on, students should not repeat a response; they must add something new.

3. Discuss

After completing the whip around, have students discuss which ideas and themes showed up most in their responses.

When to use

Use Whip Around to encourage responses from all students in the class:

  • During Guided Practice to get students talking about the material just covered
  • As a warm up activity to discuss highlights from yesterday’s lesson
  • As a closing activity to summarize information covered in the lesson
  • To have students provide evidence from a text
  • As a brainstorming activity
  • To help students uncover common themes
  • As an icebreaker to help establish a positive classroom environment


Whip Around, Sit Down

Have all students stand up. Start the Whip Around process and if a student hears a response that he has on his sheet, he crosses it off. Once all of his responses have been said by classmates and they are checked off his list, he sits down. The Whip Around continues with those students who remain standing.

One Word Whip Around

Using the same Whip Around process, students are only allowed to respond with one word and they don’t write a list ahead of time. For example, you could give the prompt “plants and animals in the desert” and students respond quickly with the first answer that comes to their mind. You do not have to stop and correct students if they are wrong, simply go over those answers when the process is completed.

Whip Around Poll

The teacher randomly calls on 3-5 students and quickly writes their answers on the board.  The teacher then reads out the first answer listed and asks students with the same answer to raise their hands.  The number of students is counted and written next to the answer.  Students with ideas not in the list are then instructed to raise their hands and the same procedure is followed. Information is gathered to rank answers from most to least common.  Writing down the thoughts facilitates retention and recall of information.

Answer or Pass

As the teacher "whips around" the classroom, students are encouraged to answer or say "pass" if they do not have an answer.  Students with the same answer are allowed to repeat the same answer and are encouraged to add something extra to the discussion. For students who previously said "pass", a few minutes is given to come up with something new to present to the class.

Select-a-Sentence Whip Around

After reading a story or passage from a piece of literature, the teacher instructs students to select one sentence that is meaningful to them or seems to be an important idea from the reading.  Students are asked to read that sentence aloud.  Students are instructed to listen for common themes.  This technique can be used at the beginning of a class using the previous night's reading assignment to help everyone have some idea about the text even if they have not completed the reading.

Whip Around Ice Breaker

Use the Whip Around strategy as a way to build classroom environment or to help students get to know each other at the beginning of  the year.  Choose questions that require students to share a non-threatening bit of personal information.  Example: "If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?"

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