Digital Sage and Scribe

I learned about the Sage and Scribe routine when I was new to teaching Algebra and Geometry and purchased a few of Kagan’s cooperative learning books for inspiration. I don’t use the books anymore but the routine is a keeper. It’s best for skill practice and it’s wonderful to use when kids are having varying levels of success with a new skill.

Sage and Scribe is a super simple collaborative structure. The kids work in pairs; one person says what to do, the other person writes it all down, and then they switch roles.

I use a slide like this to introduce it and then model how it works with a student volunteer. It’s best to model the scribe’s role to show what to do if the scribe disagrees. (Discuss BUT don’t write anything down unless the Sage says it in their own words.)

Some kids will resist (mostly out of awkwardness, I think) and try to take turns silently writing out the solutions on their own. “That is not the point!” I tell them with gusto. “I want to hear it out loud! Say it so you can practice explaining. Say it to make it stick.”

It’s especially fun in class, in person. I have the kids work out the problems in marker on big sheets of newsprint paper. They mostly enjoy it and are happy to work with anyone because it’s so structured and the problems are accessible to everyone since they are repetitive practice and start simply, growly more complex gradually.

I’m still teaching online this year, and tried it over Zoom recently when kids were struggling with writing the equations of lines. Roughly 50% of my class was starting to get the hang of it, so I paired them with the other 50%. It went pretty well. Would recommend!

I’m going to begin collecting Sage and Scribe Jamboards here:

Always happy to hear from readers!