Synthesize it

Small groups of students make summaries that are passed on to other groups for further improvement.
  • Small groups (3-10)
  • 30-60 minutes
  • >60 minutes
  • Activating prior knowledge
  • Assessment
  • Discussion
  • Practicing academic skills
  • Understand
  • Analyse
  • Create

When to use it?

  • When you want students to learn from one another.
  • When you want to stimulate the critical evaluation skills of students.

Activity instructions


  • Choose a theme/topic and divide it into subtopics.
  • Decide how many times the summaries are passed on to new groups. Will the summaries only be improved by one group or will there be multiple rounds of improvement?

Activity steps

  1. Make groups
    Divide the students into subgroups of 3-5 students. Every subgroup represents a certain subtopic.
  2. Explain the subtopics
  3. Explain the different subtopics to the different subgroups.
  4. Summarise
    Let the subgroups discuss and summarise their subtopic. If they have any questions, they can write those down as well.
  5. Improve the summaries
    The summary of every subgroup is passed on to the next group. They need to improve the summary and add any additional questions about the subtopic.
  6. Share
    Share the improved summaries with the subgroups that wrote the first version.
  7. Discuss
    Bring the students back together for a 5-10 minute plenary session. Discuss the outcomes of the summaries and address the collected questions.

Tips for implementation & variation

  • Online teaching: The subgroups can collaborate in breakout rooms and write their summaries in a shared document or in Brightspace.
  • As a teacher, you can walk around the classroom (offline) or you can visit the separate breakout rooms (online) to hear what the students are talking about and help them if necessary.

Supporting tools