I’ve been using silent debate in the classroom for a while now but I’m yet to use it with pens on tables- I’m just not convinced it will come off! Instead, tablecloths/playpaper/wallpaper works really well.
We also used the same technique for a brainstorming session about future CPD plans later on the same day and it was incredibly productive. I think the reason it works is that you get the chance to develop your own ideas in isolation for a while. This means that the ideas can be fully developed before others’ ideas come in the way and send you off on a tangent (however good a tangent it might be at the time). The next step, again in isolation, to consider others’ ideas means that you can add to someone else’s ideas without their verbal persuasion about what they were thinking and how great their thinking is. It also means that their written words are open to your interpretation, and that means more ideas as the likelihood is that there are multiple perspectives to place on any suggested concept. The physical movement around to someone else’s ideas also encourages you to leave old ideas behind and look at the new ones with a fresher mind. I love it as a future idea for meetings and creative ideas generation, as well as continuing to use it with learners for higher order thinking skills and improving writing skills.