Three-Stay One-Stray offers a low-threat forum where students can exchange ideas and build social skills such as asking probing questions. It also offers students the opportunity to learn by teaching. Placing the report-out responsibility on the students reinforces the valuable concept that knowledge resides within the learning community, not just with the "authority-figure," the instructor. Perhaps its greatest value lies in its efficiency. Instead of, for example, ten sequenced five-minute reports to the entire class (fifty minutes, plus transition time), individual students are simultaneously giving five-minute reports throughout the room.
Like "Stand Up and Share," this structure requires the easy identification of a team member who will become the group’s spokesperson. It too builds on another structure, such as Structured Problem Solving, but in this case the topics can be far more complex. After the problem solving discussions are complete and all team members indicate that they can give the team's report, the teacher designates the student from each team who will "stray." That is, one student from each group (such as the "Number One" or the "Diamond") leaves it and rotates to an adjoining team to give the report. In large classes it is essential that the order of rotation is clear. Playing cards work particularly well because the "Aces" know to rotate to the "Twos," the "Jacks" to the Queens," and so forth. The teacher can also designate the rotation of the folders (The yellow Kings’ spokesperson rotates the blue Ace team, etc.)
The designated student, who is welcomed as a visitor, shares with this new team the results of his original group's discussion, giving proposed solutions to problems or summarizing discussions. As a sponge activity, the team can share with the visitor their report. Additional rotations may be desirable if the topic prompted divergent thinking and solutions. Three rotations allow a variety of reports and give the spokespersons practice time.
Three rotations are also helpful for accountability. When the straying visitor returns to the home team, the three team members can one-by-one summarize the reports they heard from the three other teams.