The Paired Verbal Fluency strategy engages students in community dialogue to promote and confirm comprehension of concepts, content, and opinions. By stating and hearing information and thinking about the ideas of others, relative to one’s own understanding, students are better able to understand what they know, verify their ideas and opinions about a topic, and express those understandings during immediate learning situations. In addition, Paired Verbal Fluency provides a clear and open structure for brainstorming ideas about new topics of discussion.


  1. Place students in pairs, instructing them to face one another. Provide either a topic or question for discussion.
  2. Student A begins by expressing ideas/opinions/question/information about the topic or question. Student B listens. (45 seconds to 1 minute)
  3. At the end of the time period, the teacher simply says “switch” and the students exchange roles for an additional 45 seconds to one minute. During this time, Student B should not repeat ideas expressed by Student A, but instead should share other ideas/opinions/information/questions or should expand upon those expressed by Student A.
  4. This process is repeated between the pair of students for a total of three rounds, with less time being given for conversation during each round.
  5. The process is debriefed with the larger group, where students can share the content of the conversation, ask questions, or ask for clarification with the larger group. A timekeeper monitors response times.



    • What did you notice about yourself as a result of being asked to speak about this topic/concept?
    • What did you notice about yourself as a listener?
    • If given the opportunity to do the activity again, how might you prepare?
    • Consider implementing intentional or random grouping for this activity and the impact each might have.
    • To provide some measure of accountability, consider ways to document student participation, such as by collecting a post-activity reflection.
    • For students who are hesitant to participate, allow time for pre-conversation thinking and writing to build confidence.



    As a synthesis activity, ask students to discuss the key points or takeaways. For example, after researching various forms of government and analyzing their effectiveness in establishing order, students might be asked to debate their ideas.


    As a review of the key elements of a particular culture or language, ask students to share what they have learned so far about languages spoken in that culture.


    As an introduction to the skeletal system, invite students to share their current or prior knowledge. Students might be asked to name bones as well as their features and functions.


    Post an interesting image that illustrates or represents any mathematical concept. For example, a picture of an at or near capacity parking lot seen at a major theme park. Ask students to share their ideas on the mathematics connections or problem(s) represented in the picture.