Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Three Stray, One Stays

Catherine Vaughn, Alonna Smith, Ayanna Wheeler, Cathy Vaughn, Milton Bowen, Ayanna Wheeler | Published: September 16th, 2020 by K20 Center


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Three Stray, One Stays

This strategy prompts students to brainstorm and discuss ideas, come to a consensus, and share information with other students. Group members move separately around the room, interviewing their peers to gather information about different aspects of a common topic. This strategy allows students to develop a deeper understanding through discourse with peers.

Three Stray, One Stays


Moving between peer groups, students discuss and research a topic.


  1. Present the class with a discussion prompt or topic. For example, "Homework: Should students have to do it?"

  2. Split the class into groups of four. Assign each group a subtopic. Example subtopics might include "pros," "cons," "what the research says," "time constraints," "family conflicts," etc. Ask each group to discuss and take brief notes over their assigned subtopic, coming to a consensus.

  3. Ask one student per group to stay, acting as a group representative. This student should describe the group’s answer and reasoning to other students as they move through the room.

  4. Ask each of the remaining group members to stray, each traveling to a different subtopic (that is, not going to the same tables).

  5. Ask students to interview the representative in their new group to gain a deeper understanding of the subtopic and main topic. Students should take notes and prepare to share with their original group later.

  6. Have students returning to their original groups and share what they have learned.

  7. Ask each group to synthesize the information they learned and share it with the class.

The Teacher Toolkit. (n.d.). Two Stray, One Stay. Retrieved from