I have a very quiet ENG 99 class this semester. Even still at week three or four, they were very reluctant to speak up in front of the whole class or even in small groups. So I decided to try something that I had learned at a Reading Apprenticeship workshop several of us attended in May. I couldn’t remember what they called the activity, but I called it “Hold the Floor.” I put students into groups of four. Each student had a minute or two to review the writing they had done for homework and then starting with the person with the longest commute in the group, each student had to speak about what they had written for homework for two minutes. Before they began, I explained that, for those two minutes, only the speaker can speak–the listeners cannot ask questions, add ideas or give examples. Additionally, the speaker must speak for the entire two minutes. I also suggested the types of things they might want to talk about and explained what good listening looked like. I used my phone to time the two minutes exactly. It was fascinating to watch. Many got off to a slow start but once they realized that no one was going to jump in and save them or interrupt them, they actually picked up some momentum. It turned out to be the best activity we had done thus far, and we have done it several times since. I think it also was a sort of break-out moment for some of the students. Looking back now from here in week nine, I can see there are a number of quieter, more introverted students in the class who at the time were definitely not used to speaking so long–or ever–in class about their own ideas. Rather than being mortified by it, however, I think they felt honored to be listened to.