This page by: Katelyn Connolly Petteruti
What is Save the Last Word for Me?

"This is another discussion strategy to develop thinking. However, it uses groups instead of pairs, and helps each student compare his or her interpretation to others'. While reading, each student selects several statements or passages of particular interest to him, and writes each one (or a summary) on a note card. On the back of each card, the student jots his reaction to the passage. Then, in small groups or as a whole class, students take turns sharing one of their selected passages. After a student reads or re-states a passage, others offer their thoughts and responses. The author of the card gets the last word by reading his own reaction from the back of his card - or stating a fresh view, if hearing the others had altered his interpretation." Subjects Matter: Every Teacher's Guide to Content-Area Reading// By Daniels and Zemelman

Why use Save the Last Word for Me?

"This is a structured form of group discussion that helps students see how the meaning of any piece of reading is recreated by the reader, and not just funneled into her head from the page. As students share their passages and hear various people's responses, they hear similarities and differences in one another's thinking. But instead of being drawn into a defensive debate, each card-reader gets the face-saving protection adolescents often need, as he listens and decides for himself whether to stick with his interpretation or, free of others' criticism and judgment, to revise it." Subjects Matter: Every Teacher's Guide to Content-Area Reading// By Daniels and Zemelman

How to use Save the Last Word for Me:

  1. to help everyone quickly locate the passage being discussed, students should indicate on each card the page number for their selection. Be sure students understand that when they write a comment on the back of a card, it can take the form of a question, a connection with something in their own lives, an explanation of why the statement is important, or why they disagree with it - any of the kinds of thinking that good readers employ.
  2. Have students complete three or four cards as they read. When they're finished with the reading assignment and the cards, they should organize them according to which seem most important, or most worth sharing. That way, if someone else chooses to read the same statement, each student has several back-up choices.
  3. Be sure to circulate among the groups as they share, to see how they are doing and what ideas they are focusing on
Subjects Matter: Every Teacher's Guide to Content-Area Reading// By Daniels and Zemelman


Have students read an article about an issue currently being debated in the Supreme Court. Split the class into two groups, the "for" group and the "against" group. They should pick out facts from the article that support their assigned side of the issue. One side of the card has the fact and the back side of the card has the reader's reasons as to why that fact is important in making their case. Students will use these cards to debate the issue based upon their reading of the article. The author of the card will have the last say in the debate of that particular support.