Save the Last Word for Me is a discussion strategy that builds active reading,
speaking, and listening skills and encourages all students to share and discuss
their ideas equally. By reading and responding to a text paired with a structured
discussion, students are more engaged in the learning.

Adolescent Literacy Model- Save the Last Word for Me


  1. Pre-select and assign a central text (i.e. passage, video, art, photography) that gets
    at key characteristics of the lesson or unit goals.
  2. As students read the text, have them identify (highlight, mark with a sticky note)
    two to three selections ( i.e. words, quotes, sentences) that they find particularly
    interesting, agree/disagree with, raise questions, didn’t know, connect with, etc.
  3. Pass out index cards to each student, one for each selection they chose. On one
    side of the index card, students will copy the selection (word, quote, sentence,
    etc.) directly from the text. On the other side, they will explain what it means to
    them, what it reminded them of, or any other rationale as to why they chose it.
  4. Divide students into groups of three, labeling one student A, one B, and the other
    C. Student A begins by reading one of his/her selections to the group. Students
    B and C discuss (what they think it means, why they think it’s important, their
    reactions, connections, etc.) while Student A listens. Once Students B and C are
    finished discussing, Student A gets the last word in the discussion and reads the
    back of their card explaining why they picked that selection. This process continues
    until everyone in the group has shared at least one selection and provided the last
    word in the discussion.
  5. Monitor the discussion as students take turns reading their selections, listening to
    the group’s responses and explaining their reasons for choosing those selections.



  •  What did you learn from someone else?
  • How was your thinking similar or different from someone else?
  • How did this process enhance your listening skills?
    •  Use a timer to help manage the amount of time spent per person.
    • Students choose words, quotes, sentences or some combination of these.
    • After reading, have students determine and summarize the main/central idea of the text and choose two to three quotes that they think are important to the main/central idea.
    • Different types of texts can be used for this strategy. Instead of reading a passage, students watch a video clip or view images such as photographs or art.
    • Instead of choosing sentences from the text, students ask “probing” questions the text raises for them (A “probing” question is interpretive and evaluative. It can be discussed and has no clearly defined “right” answer). Students answer the question on the back of their card and discuss in their small groups.



Students watch a film clip and choose three moments, actions, characters, images, etc. that are significant contributions to the plot.


Students view a collection of art from a specific time period and select three images. Students explain why they selected the images, what characteristics connect with the current unit of study, and what they think the images represent.


Students in a videography class view a variety of video clips on the same topic and identify the elements in each clip that they find the most appealing, confusing, effective, etc.


After reading an article about vaccines, students choose three sentences from the text that raise questions, support or refute their own opinion about vaccines, or is new information.