The ASD Nest Egg

strategies to support kids on the autism spectrum

Month: March 2016

Word Sneak for class discussions

Struggle with getting full student participation during whole-class discussions?

colored note cards index cardsWord Sneak is an activity that helps scaffold small-group or whole-class discussions for all students. It’s particularly helpful to encourage 100% participation, with support for students who are reluctant to participate.


  1. Brainstorm a list of words that will contribute to a whole group or small group discussion about your workshop topic. These words can be directly relevant to the topic and/or words be connected and can help advance the discussion.
  2. Write one word on each index card, enough for each student to have one card.
  3. Give the whole group or small group a discussion topic or question.
  4. Provide one card to each student.
  5. Instruct students to discuss as they normally would, but to be sure to use their word in the conversation at least once—when they use the word, place the card in the middle of the table.
  • Note that students are not limited to one conversational turn; everyone should be given an opportunity to participate using their word.


You can watch Jimmy Fallon play Word Sneak with Bryan Cranston, or read more about classroom use at Larry Ferlazzo’s blog.

Priming students to ensure success

Students do better when they feel successful and confident. Catching them off guard or unprepared can make them feel quite the opposite. So when posing questions to the class, allow students time to think about their answers without having to answer immediately. One way to do this is through priming.

Priming is simply alerting students ahead of time 

A nice example of priming is the “pose-pause-pounce-bounce” protocol, from Teacher Toolkit. It looks like this:



Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce in cartoon, by @TeacherToolkit

For students with ASD, it would be helpful to add an extra priming step to the process. So the complete protocol would be:

  • Pose the question to the class
  • Pause to give them thinking time
  • Prime the students who you will call on so they can prepare their answer
  • Pounce – call on a student to respond
  • Prime the next students for follow-up to others’ responses
  • Bounce to next students

…and you can even add another “P” at the end: PRAISE.

Try it!

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