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Classroom Discussion

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Sarah Mahoney

on 30 January 2014

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Transcript of Classroom Discussion

Classroom Discussion
Making it Meaningful
Why Do We Need Discussion?
Students learn to develop questions rather than just solutions.
They learn to make meaning of a text instead of simply regurgitating the information.
Classroom interaction deeply enhances reading comprehension.
Classroom discussion significantly shapes literacy skills.
Cognitive growth is more likely to occur when students need to explain, elaborate or defend their position to others.
How do you make it meaningful?
Teach students the specific tools
“The difference between students feeling that they are just going through their paces and the sense that they are engaged in a powerful exchange of ideas (Brookfield and Preskil, 1999, p. 140).”
Step 1
: Generate a short list of topics for students to further

Step 2
: Assign each student a topic to become an “
” on.

Step 3
: Students form groups with the other “experts” on the same topic, and
their findings and insights.

Step 4
: Students organize into new groups with an expert in each topic present. Each “expert” will be responsible for sharing their findings on their topic, and
the non-experts become as
as they are.

“Think of the behaviors that adults demonstrate in high-quality discussions--making eye contact, speaking audibly, clarifying an argument. Children do not use these behaviors automatically, but these are concrete actions that can be taught and practiced at any age. Once children master those habits, they can use them to build on each other's ideas, and to do more critical and evidence-based thinking.” (Bambrick-Santoyo, 2013)
Jigsaw Group Discussion
: Students make observations of a text, without attempting to interpret it. They consider:
important images, details, points of view, structure, etc.
what is 'obvious'
Problem Statement
: Students, provided with an essay prompt, must consider:
information about the text
literary techniques named in the prompt
specific question asked by the prompt
Road Map:
Idea Bank: Students generate a list of their most relevant observations
Thesis Statement: The class creates a thesis statement that answers the prompt
Outline for an essay

- Students can benefit from having more discussion with a larger number of students

- Each student becomes a vital component of the ‘jigsaw’, and as such is given a
reason to speak up, and partake in the discussion

but keep in mind...

- Depending on the number of topics, the amount of information to be absorbed,
particularly in the second round of discussion, can be overwhelming.
- Harkness allows students to be at the center of meaning, not the teacher.
- Its structure provides a problem-solving process to critical thinking and text explications.

but keep in mind...
- Harkness was developed for smaller classes.
- It is a difficult method for students to initially grasp, especially the Exposition phase.
A three-stepped activity intended to start a whole class discussion
The "think" component has students write about a topic, and work individually for a given amount of time.
The "pair" component has students get into pairs and discuss each other's thoughts on the given topic.
The "share" component has students share their thoughts from the first two parts with the rest of the class.
Advantages: It allows for better time management, it creates opportunities for the students to be actively involved, and students are able to actively practice their listening skills.
A large group activity that has the class divided into two groups.
The two groups are divided into an inner discussion group and a larger observation group.
The discussion group would talk about a specific topic, statement, idea, or question assigned by the teacher.
The outer group observes and takes notes
Once the time limit has been reached some students from the outer group would switch with the students in the inner group.
Advantages: It has been shown to enhance the study of literature. It also encourages peer collaboration and helping behaviour.

Applebee, A.N., Langer, J.A., Nystrand, M. & Gamoran, A. (2003). “Discussion-based Approaches to Developing
Understanding: Classroom Instruction and Student Performance in Middle and High School English.” American Educational Research Journal, 40(3), 685-730.
Baloche, L. (October 01, 1993). Fishbowls, Creative Controversy, Talking Chips: Exploring Literature Cooperatively.
English Journal, 82, 6, 43-48.
Brookfield, Stephen and Stephen Preskill. (1999) .“Strategies for Reporting Small-Group Discussions to the Class.”
College Teaching, 47(4), 140-142.
Bambrick-Santoyo, P. (2013). “Habits improve classroom discussions: to ensure the best and most useful classroom
discussions, teach the building blocks of listening, articulating, exchanging ideas, and synthesizing new knowledge.” Phi Delta Kappan, 95(1), 70.
Conderman, G., Bresnahan, V., & Hedin, L. (January 01, 2011). Promoting Active Involvement in Today's Classrooms.
Kappa Delta Pi Record, 47, 4, 174-180.
Green, T. D. (July 01, 2000). Responding and Sharing: Techniques for Energizing Classroom Discussions. Clearing
House, 73, 6, 331-34
Isgitt, J. & Donnellan, Q. (2014). Discussion- Based Problem Solving: An English-Calculus Collaboration Emphasizes
Cross-Curricular Thinking Skills. English Journal, 103(3), 80-83.
Kahn, E. (2007). Building Fires: Raising Achievement through Class Discussion. English Journal, 96(4), 16- 18.
Miller, R. L., & Benz, J. J. (March 01, 2008). Techniques for Encouraging Peer Collaboration: Online Threaded
Discussion or Fishbowl Interaction. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 35, 1, 87-93
Bambrick-Santoyo, P. (2013). Habits improve classroom discussions: to ensure the best and most useful classroom
discussions, teach the building blocks of listening, articulating, exchanging ideas, and synthesizing new knowledge. Phi Delta Kappan, 95(1), 70.
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