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A Seed Discussion is a two-part strategy used to teach students how to engage in discussions about assigned readings. In the first part, students read selected text and identify “seeds” or key concepts of a passage which may need additional explanation. In the second part, students work in small groups to present their “seeds” to one another. Each “seed” should be thoroughly discussed before moving on to the next. 


Seed Discussions can be developed for a variety of subjects and reading levels. This strategy encourages students to have in-depth discussions of reading selections. Seed Discussions rely upon the use of higher order thinking as students identify and articulate the “seeds.” This technique helps to build communication skills as the students discuss the “seeds” within the group.

Create and use the strategy

Introduce students to the seed discussion strategy. Each student should be assigned to a group composed of varying skill levels and a role within the group. Seed Discussions usually include the following four roles played by students:

  • Leader: responsible for calling on each person to share his/her discussion seeds
  • Manager: ensures that everyone has all materials for the discussion (books, journals, seeds, etc.)
  • Checker: ensures that every group member has a chance to talk about his/her seed and that each group member comments on each seed before the next person presents a new seed for discussion
  • Communicator: the only person to leave the group; notifies the teacher when the discussion is complete

Note: Give each student a card containing a description of their role.

  1. Teachers begin by providing each student with the reading material and a set of questions about the assigned reading. These questions will guide students as they target possible “seeds” for discussion. Examples of such questions might include:
  • What new information does the reading selection provide? 
  • What did you find interesting or surprising about the selection? 
  • What did you not understand in the selection? 
  1. The next step is to provide students with an opportunity to write and refine their target “seeds.” 
  2. Students meet in their groups and assume their assigned roles. Students begin the discussion by presenting their “seeds” to one another. Each “seed” should be discussed by all group members before moving on to the next. 
  3. Teachers should ask students to determine the strongest and weakest “seeds.” This discussion should include criteria for deciding upon quality “seed” ideas. Students can then use those criteria when developing “seeds” for their next discussion.

Related resources


Just Read Now, Seed Discussions. Retrieved 2008, March 5, from

Puckett, D. (ed.). A to Z Literacy Strategies: 70 Best Practice Strategies for Teaching Reading and Writing Across Middle Grades Content Areas (2008).