A paragraph, sentence, phrase, word

The Tool

An activity used to explore a text and encourage discussion.[1]

How to use

  • understanding and evaluating a text
  • prioritizing
  • discussion starter
  • planning tool

This tool can be used in different situations:

  • an introductory activity to engage people with the topic to be discussed
  • collaborative discussion around a topic - prioritizing the main issues
  • reviewing a document - gaining 'buy in' to a policy or professional statement
  • aligning understanding
  • good for testing whether a document or presentation does what it is trying to do
  • with senior leadership team on refreshing, for example, their understanding of IB standards and practices
  • good for sharing complex or lots of material quickly
  • good for testing whether a document or presentation does what it is is trying to do


  • Individually or as a group review the paper and then:

    highlight a sentence that helped you understand the paper and contains the 'big idea'
    underline a phrase that resonated with you - in a meaningful or provoking way
    circle a word that stood out to you and captured your attention
  • Each person or group shares their thoughts with each other. What is highlighted? What is at the heart of the paper? How did you make your choice?
  • Look at your responses. What are the implications of your choices? Which common themes emerge? Which questions remain?


  1. ^ This protocol is based on Harvard's Project Zero Visible Thinking Routines whose website can be accessed here 
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