Snowball creates an opportunity for students to share their personal opinions in an anonymous, low-risk way. In addition to individual expression, this strategy also gives students a chance to discover others’ viewpoints and to consider shared or differing opinions.
Give participants a strip of paper and ask them to write, as clearly as possible, a brief response to a question/statement that is read aloud. For example: What facts did you find most persuasive in the video on global warming? Or, What questions remain about the characters in our drama work? Next, participants crumple their paper response into a ball and throw them into the middle of a circle. Each participant picks up a different balled paper. The group reads their anonymous response one at a time. Each response can lead to further dialogue (for example, if the statement is a question for the group) or it can just be read alongside other opinions with processing occurring at the end of all statements being read.
- What were some of our common responses–meaning where did we offer similar answers to the prompt? Why do you think this might be? Where were our areas of difference? Why might this be?
- How many of you found you agreed with someone else’s opinion in the group when the statements were being read aloud? Can anyone share an example?
- What do these responses have to do with our larger inquiry?
- This is anonymous so use this opportunity to express a respectful opinion, concern, or question.
- This is about your opinion. I’m not looking for a single “right” answer.
- If you pick up your own ‘snowball’ statement please toss it back in and pick a different one.
- Students can answer multiple prompts and answers can be tracked on different colored paper.
- Once the activity is understood, a student or group can design the prompts.
- One they’ve been read, ask participants to “map” the snowball answers, grouping like ideas on paper together on the floor or wall. For further information on this approach see the Visual Mapping strategy description.
- Reading/Writing or Social Studies: Invite students to take on a role of a character or historical figure and respond to various prompts as that person.
- Math: Have each participant pick a number within a range, write it in standard form on a slip of paper, crumple it up, and throw it into the middle. When participants pick a piece of paper from the middle, they each take a moment to write the number in a different type of numerical notation (fractions, equations, etc.) on the slip of paper. Once they finish, they throw the slip back into the middle. This process repeats for several rounds.