Mitten Discussion

#plenary #discussion #collaboration

Gamifying the discussion in this way encourages reticent students to contribute to the discussion. This activity prevents one or two students from dominating the discussion.


  • The instructor tells the students they are about to begin a discussion of a specific issue or problem, but they are allowed to contribute only if they are holding the “discussion mitten” (or a similar item such as a stuffed toy).
  • The instructor begins the discussion by tossing the mitten to one of the students. After contributing to the discussion, that student throws the mitten to another student, who also contributes. That student then throws the mitten to yet another student, and the discussion continues in this way until the issue or problem has been sufficiently explored.
  • If a student catches the mitten but has nothing to contribute, he or she can toss the mitten to someone else but then has to post a relevant contribution to the course’s online discussion forum at a later time.
  • At the end of the mitten throwing, the instructor can ask if there was anyone who didn’t catch the mitten who would still like to speak.

NB! This activity can be challenging in larger classes where students don’t know each other, and feel that it is safe to talk or voice their opinion in a plenary setting. Using the #plenary #think-pair-share activity before tossing the ‘mitten’ to students may help increase the activity level in this exercise.