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A Useful Teaching Strategy

Megan Siljander

on 24 July 2015

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Transcript of Discussion

Remember, our student’s brain is still immature and won’t master sophisticated social cognition until the teens or early 20s (Jensen, 2005). Our role as a coach and facilitator will always be important for effective discussions.

Discussion -
Discussion is a versatile teaching and learning strategy that can be adapted to suit any subject at any level of education.
Killen, 2013, p. 163.
Social brain still developing
Circle up!
The Good and the Bad
A strategy like circle time allows students to discuss things important to them in a safe and supportive space. Students can hear other points of view, have their own perceptions challenged, and consider how they fit in the world. Discussions like this can also be a powerful way of changing attitudes (Gall & Gillet, 2001).


• It can be the whole lesson or part of it.
• It can be used for any year level and for any subject.
• Students get to express themselves and explain their point of view.
• Students hear other points of view.
• It utilizes both student and teacher focused strategies.
• Students get to practice important communication skills of talking, listening and responding.
• Teacher can easily assess what students already know about a topic.
• It can help to bring the class closer together and allow them take ownership of their knowledge.
• Helps to develop and broaden a student's understanding.
• Useful to crystallize a students’ knowledge before writing an essay or assignment.
• Increases metacognition.
• Is a democratic process.

Week 3 Group Activity
Vol XCIII, No. 311
More talk from students, less talk from teachers
Permission to speak, granted
Allowing students to assess themselves
Students be the teacher
It seems that students who talk more in class remember more of what they learn and develop valuable life skills.

Research shows that students’ learning is better through cooperative learning strategies, like discussions, more than when students compete with each other individually (Jensen, 2009).

Humans are social beings: most students, when provided with a safe and supportive space, will benefit greatly from discussions in class (Jensen, 2005). The social interaction in discussions engage students in higher order thinking as they are encouraged to question and scrutinize assumptions to a level that isn’t possible when working alone or via direct instruction (Brookefield & Preskill, 2005).

Research also shows that 90% of what is discussed and taught to students is retained, while only 10% of what is read or heard is retained (Stone, 2013).

Fear not teachers - you are still needed! Your role as facilitator, social-emotional and skills coach are vital in guiding a learning experience and teaching things like active listening, articulating responses and patience (Gordon, n.d.).

Self assessment:
Did I contribute?
Did I respect my classmates opinions?

Class assessment:
Use a rubric and mark it together as a class to see if the discussion was constructive
Congratulate productive behaviour
Choose areas to work on as a class

Based on (Gordon, n.d.)

Discussion cannot just be an impromptu time filler- it needs to be part of a well thought out lesson.
Planning a discussion
Before the discussion:
Provide a safe, comfortable environment to students
Arrange suitable chairs setting for discussions
Know the students skills
Perspective for the discussion
Develop clear goals and plans

Teach HOW to have a discussion:
Students need direct instruction and lots of practice to learn how to make a discussion fair and constructive. Tell them what to expect and provide feedback throughout the session.

Set ground rules for discussions:
We listen
We respect
We speak in turn
We look at the speaker
Teacher preparation includes:
preparing thoughtful, involving questions that extend the students thinking
preparing the focus and direction of the discussion.

After the discussion:
take notes to comment on each group and use it to plan the next discussion
think how the presentation skills can be improved
Rethink the materials
Use these experiences for future planning, rethink what to keep, what has to improve, what can be extended.
Social brain (Visualphotos, 2015)
Students in this class participate in circle time (Circle time, 2015).
Class Discussion. (Bing images, 2015).

• Can lose focus and meander off topic.
• Can devolve into argument.
• If students have no prior knowledge of the subject there is no point.
• Strong students can dominate and more unsure students may not contribute.
• A student's self-esteem may be damaged if their ideas are ridiculed.

(Keane, 2015; Killen, 2013).
Discussions provide opportunities for students to experiment with language and its meaning to increase vocabulary knowledge – a really important part of literacy comprehension.
Stone, 2013.
consider this...
Discussions give students who have an underdeveloped vocabulary,
or who are not fluent in English,
more exposure to language.

Stone, 2013.
Based on (Gordon, n.d.)
Based on (Gordon, n.d.)
Add some fun - twist the discussion
Strategies to captivate your students
Conch discussion
Goldfish bowl
Discussion map
Group roles
Target: Younger students
Target: all students
Target: all students
Target: older students
Choose an object. Students can only talk when they are holding the object.
Selected students observe the discussion and make helpful observations to peers.
Visually record every exchange in the discussion to get a 'picture' of the discussion.
Students take on helpful and unhelpful discussion roles and debrief after.
Keirin Bullock
Permission to speak, granted
When should we talk?
Did you know?
Consider this...
Circle up!
Social brain
editing and design/reference list
When should we talk?
There are many great reasons to use discussions. For example:

before a lesson can improve students understanding of the task (Mills & Jennings, 2011) and allow them to make their own
connections to learning
(Brookfield & Preskill, 2005).

pair sharing
gives all students a
chance to talk
and can be a useful strategy for students who don't like to talk in a large group (Harvey, 2015).

discussions can
contribute to the inquiry process
by developing
thinking skills
(Gordon, n.d.). Using a 'case study' is another strategy idea for discussions.

a teacher can use a discussion to
gauge where individual student understanding is
to adjust lessons (Whitby, 2013).

Consider the lists below before deciding when to use a discussion.

as cited in Swinburne Online, 2015.

Cartoon Tornado (2015)

Study and Learn. (2012)


Cartoon Tornado. (2015).
[Image] Retrieved from

Checklist. (2015). [
Image]. Retrieved from

Circle time.
(2015). Students in this class participate in circle time. [Image]. Retrieved

Class discussion. (2015).
[Image]. Retrieved from

(2015). [Image]. Retrieved from

Study and Learn. (2012).
Teacher Preparing [Image]. Retrieved from http://

Visualphotos. (2015).
Social brain. [Image]. Retrieved from http://


Brookfield, S.D. & Preskill, S. (2012).
Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and
Techniques for Democratic Classrooms.
[EBL Library version]. Retrieved from: http://

Gordon, K. (n.d.).
Inquiry approaches in primary studies of society and environment key
learning area.
Queensland School Curriculum Council. Retrieved from

Harvey, S. (Speaker). (2015).
Tracking the thinking of small groups
[Video file].
Retrieved from

Jensen, E. (2005).
Teaching with the brain in mind
. Alexandria, VA: Association for
Supervisions and Curriculum Development

Keane, W. (2015).
. [Podcast]. Retrieved from

Killen, R. (2013).
Effective teaching strategies: lessons from research and practice.
Edn.). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia.

Mills, H. L. & Jennings, L. (2011). Talking About Talk: Reclaiming the Value and
Power of Literature Circles.
Reading Teacher,

(8), 590-598. doi: 10.1598/RT.64.8.4

Stone, R. (2013).
Best Practices for Teaching Reading: What Award-winning
Classroom Teachers Do.
New York; Skyhorse Publishing.

Swinburne Online. (2015).
Discussions at a glance table.
Retrieved from Swinburne
Online Discussion Board Week 3: discussions

Weimer, M. (2008). ‘10 benefits of getting students to participate in classroom
discussions’. Faculty Focus Magna Publication, 5, p. 23-9 Retrieved from http://

Whitby, G. (2013).
Educating GEN WI-FI: how to make schools relevant for 21st
century learners.
Sydney, Australia: HarperCollinsPublishers.

Megan Siljander
Discussion: the good and the bad
Killen quote #1
editing and design/reference list/Prezi set-up for team
Brocha Serebryanski
Add some fun - twist the discussion
Students be the teacher
Planning a discussion
editing and design/reference list/Google Doc set-up for idea collation for team
Mohini Parmar
Did you know?
Killen Quote #2
Wing Sze Chan
Planning a discussion ('before' and 'after' content)
Did you know?
Whole-class discussions should not seek to find the correct answer to any question. Rather they should lead to informed and rational consensus.
Discussions don't have to be limited to be with those just in our class.
Technology and the internet means discussions can happen with others
around the world!

Social media, virtual worlds, internet gaming and Skype-style platforms mean our kids can collaborate with other classes and hear from
guest speakers, no matter where they are.

- Killen, 2013. p.164.
According to Weimer (2011), participation in Discussion not only provides student feedback but also valuable feedback for the teacher. This can be seen by the response students provide or the way in which they try to explain the ideas presented in class. The teacher can therefore see the extent of their understanding and can correct (or help the students correct) what the students haven’t got right or don’t see quite clearly.
Kids in Mexico and the United States participate in Mystery Skype, a global guessing game that lets students participate in a fun cultural exchange with other students anywhere in the world. Just one of many ways to use technology for discussions.
(Skype, 2015)
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