This post looks at resources to sharpen teacher discussion skills. This is one of the most important strategies in Religious Education and Family Life Education classroom.
She writes, “here they are: 15 formats for structuring a class discussion to make it more engaging, more organized, more equitable, and more academically challenging. If you’ve struggled to find effective ways to develop students’ speaking and listening skills…” This blog comes in the form of a podcast as well as a written exploration of these strategies.
Other resources on the website include: In Praise of Think-Pair Share
- Seven Easy Ways to Support Student Writing in Any Content Area
- How We Say Our Students’ Names…and Why It Matters
- Six Ed Tech Tools to Try in 2016
“Discussion is a perfect place to develop students’ ability to use textual evidence. In discussion, students work with multiple ideas and have to balance new ideas with their original conclusions. It’s a challenging task. Using evidence in discussion strengthens students’ comprehension and confidence.” See also their Professional Development page.
A preponderance of evidence demonstrates that many teachers mistakenly conflate discussion with recitation. “Typical teacher-student discourse resembles a quiz show, with teachers asking a question, the student replying, and the teacher evaluating the student’s response. This is called initiation-response-evaluation, ‘I-R-E,’ or recitation.
In contrast to recitation, quality discussion, according to the University of Washington’s Center for Instructional Development and Research, involves purposeful questions prepared in advance, assessment, and starting points for further conversations. Teachers are also advised to:
- Distribute opportunities to talk
- Allow discussants to physically see each other
- Ask questions that “may or may not have a known or even a single correct answer”2
- Foster learners talking to peers3
- Encourage students to justify their responses
- Vary the types of questions