Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

30-Second Expert

Shelby Blackwood | Published: July 30th, 2021 by K20 Center


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30-Second Expert

This collaborative strategy can be used to introduce new material or to review texts that students have read. 30-Second Expert helps students summarize and synthesize information in a brief, reciprocal activity.

30-Second Expert


30-Second Expert invites students to practice their speaking and listening skills while participating in substantive conversation. Students write down what they know about a topic, either from a text they have just read or from their prior knowledge. They then summarize and share their knowledge with a partner, recording new knowledge as they listen. Though this strategy can be used at any point in a lesson to encourage discourse, the ideal placement invites students to use it to summarize new information or as a pre-reading strategy.


  1. Ask students to draw a T-chart on a blank sheet of paper. Have them label the left side "What I know about this topic" and the right side "What I learned from my partner."

  2. Have students write what they know about the topic on the left side of the T-chart. If students are using this strategy to summarize a text, have students complete this step after they have finished reading.

  3. Place students in pairs or allow students to choose partners.

  4. Invite students to stand and turn toward their partners. Designate one student in each pair as the speaker and the other as the listener. Then, have the speaker share a significant piece of information or interesting insight from the text. The speaker should say, "I am an expert on this topic because I know. . . ." Give students only 30 seconds to share.

  5. Have the listener say, "According to [partner’s name]," and summarize what the speaker has said. The listener should finish by asking, "Did I get that right?" At this point, have the speaker clarify any misconceptions or add any information the listener left out, while the listener adds any insight learned from their partner to the right side of their T-chart.

  6. Ask student pairs to switch roles. The speaker becomes the listener. The listener becomes the speaker. Have students repeat steps 4 and 5 in their new roles.

  7. Consider watching the K20 Center’s "30-Second Expert" video for more information.

  8. Optional Technology Integration: Students may use a video device to create a recording of their responses. These recorded responses could be published in a secure location such as Google Classroom, a private or unlisted class YouTube channel, or a class blog for the teacher and/or classmates to provide feedback.

Adapted from AVID (n.d.). 30-Second Expert [PDF]. AVID Critical Reading.