I got the chance to attend a workshop after school today looking at the importance of class discussion and having students talk. We looked at a few different strategies:
- Word splash
- giving the students a word or image and having them brainstorm individual words or phrases. With this we need to try to extend beyond the nice surface level words we associate with the word, keep going past the slow sections to push students to deeper and more complex ideas. Give students think time to allow them to learn more and go deeper. This seems like a quick way to start or end a class with little prep for the teacher, just write the word or phrase on the board and let them go.
- Give students a set of quotes and have them choose the one they connect with most and share in their table groups or a small group which one stuck with them and why. I really liked this as it gave the students something that they can engage with right away and can look at it from a surface level or go deeper into the quote. The individual can be extended by connecting the main idea of the quotes on the sheet or the ones the group chose
- Quick Write
- I know quick write looks out of place on this list of discussion strategies but it can be used to support the sharing of ideas. It gives the students a chance to write down activity thoughts before sharing with another partner or the class. This gives them a safe way to share because they have something prepared.
- Snap Chat / Timed Talk
- Give the students a set time 2-5 minutes to discuss a specific question or phrase.
- Having students re state what others said in their own word to check for meaning. This allows students to clarify what was intended.
- T Charts
- These can be used to compare and contrast almost anything. Students may start their chart on their own and then expand them as a group. I would like to try this with math concepts ie adding / subtracting or adding/ multiplying. T Charts can be used as anchor charts for various topics and then displayed on the wall.
One idea that came up many times was using time as a focuser, and giving students a time limit so that they know that it has to be done. This is “teacher time” while you give the students a time you can shorten it or extend it depending on how the activity is going.
Something I would like to try is to display an image or give the students a copy of an image and have the come up with the Instagram or Snap Chat captions then projecting or posting the image on the board and having the class share possible captions for the image. It would also be do able by having a pair come up with their caption on a their piece of paper and taping it to the board or wall near the image to caption the image. We could then read these captions out loud and talk about which ones made an impact on us.
When looking at the research , Discussion ranks 7th out of 150 indicators of ceiling. It was shown to have a large impact on learning. I have seen this figure presented several times and it comes out of Hattie’s research. All students can participate in discussion, they may enter from different points and share.
I think for me the biggest take away for me was creating activities that are low threshold , so that any student may participate in the activity. For me I want my students to feel that discussion is low risk for them and that they are safe to share. I am finding that this is already happening in my small math groups, where students can talk about their math thinking with peers that they are achievement comfortable with. The other thing I want to work on is to create discussion opportunities have a high opportunities or no celling, so that students can take it where they need to by following the flow of ideas in the class, to reach new or different levels of thinking, expanding beyond recall or emotional responses to having them apply their knowledge and create new ideas or opinions from the ideas that were shared.