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Five Interactive Activities to Debrief a Text

By Jessica Aggrey
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Reading is an excellent way for students to grow their language skills. Having just the right activity to help students access the text on an even deeper level can not only expand your students’ learning but also create engagement and make learning fun.

This weekend I attended the annual CAP (California Acceleration Project) conference.  I went to a session titled “Developing Thematic Curriculum for Accelerated ESL” presented by David Garrett of Cuyamaca College. In the presentation, Garrett gave some great pointers for developing your own course materials. He also shared a useful list of post-reading activities which he graciously agreed to let me share them here. Check out the list below taken from Garrett’s presentation handout to get some ideas for ways to have your students dig into a course text.

1. Jigsaw Questions

For a section of the text, students create questions as if they were writing them for a test on the material. The questions are handed to another group, and the new group answers the questions. The cycle continues until all groups have answered all questions. Then, the whole class looks at the questions and answers.

2. Speed Dating

Students form two lines facing each other similar to a square dancing event. A short amount of time is set and students ask and answer a question with their partner. When the time is up, the students change partners and discuss the next question. You could give them a list of questions or have them use the questions they created in groups.

3. Literature Circle

Each student is assigned a role, and they complete a task for their role in a group.


Passage Picker: Pick quotes from the text that you found important, enjoyable, or interesting. Include page number and explain your quote.

Word Wizard: Look for new or unknown words in the text. Write a definition and include the page number.

Artful Artist: Visually depict anything from the text. Use your drawing skills.

Summarizer: Write a brief overview of the text. Include all important characters and actions.

Connector: Find and record connections between the book and the outside world. It could be a connection to your own life, other stories, or people. (Anything)

Discussion Director: Write down some interesting questions based on the text that would be good for a discussion.

4. Carousel

Posters with questions about the text are hung on the four walls of the room. In groups, students go to one of the posters and discuss and write answers for the question on the poster. Then, students move to the next poster and answer the next question.

5. Mock Trial

Organize students into plaintiffs, defendants, judges, jury, etc. Take a character from the book to put on trial.

What are your favorite ways to help your class engage with a text? Leave a comment below or consider submitting a guest post on TESOL Planner. Sharing is caring 🙂

To learn more about Cuyamaca’s use of thematic courses, visit this page.

Say Thanks. Get Jessica a cup of coffee.


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