Printed from

Back and Forth

This technique allows students to explain a concept or idea and share thoughts with a partner. Students not only explain their understanding of the concept, but are able to listen to a classmate’s explanation and check it for accuracy. In this way, students are able to help each other correct misunderstandings.

How to use

1. Explain

Partner A explains to his or her partner a problem, process, concept, etc. assigned by the teacher.

2. Write

Partner B writes down his or her partner’s explanation.

3. Check

Partner A checks Partner B’s writing for accuracy, making sure Partner B has captured his or her explanation correctly and that they both agree on the response.

4. Repeat

Students reverse roles with another problem, process, concept, etc. so that Partner B has the opportunity to explain verbally. Partner A records the explanation and Partner B checks for accuracy.

When to use

Use Back and Forth when students are working in pairs:

  • After introducing a new topic
  • After teaching a classroom procedure
  • In review for an upcoming assessment
  • As a formative assessment
  • Before beginning a new assignment to assess for prior knowledge
  • After introducing new vocabulary


Trio Back and Forth

Students can work in groups of three so that one student explains the concept, the second student writes, and the third student checks the explanation.

PreK-K Back and Forth

PK-K students could complete this activity orally, using repetition of their partner’s response, and then discuss any incorrect parts of the explanation. As an option, the teacher could scribe the conversation.

Concept Analysis

Ask students to analyze or argue about a concept with evidence to back up their view.  For instance, students may be asked to argue the value of driving a car versus the effect of air pollution caused by cars on the community.


Ask students to retell a story in their own words of from a different perspective.  For instance, the students may tell the story of The Three Little Pigs from the Wolf's perspective.

Printed from