|Homepage --> Room with a View: Discussion Strategies|
This page features examples of different configurations for effective discussions in the class. The role of talk in learning is often overlooked, though it also requires a purpose and training to reap its benefits as a strategy.
|Title Talk: Prereading that focuses on the title of a literary text gets students thinking about the text to come. Such thinking teaches them how to generate ideas, make connections and predictions. Here is a recent example form an initial discussion of Lord of the Flies.|
|Establish a Purpose: The actual use of graphic organizers and notetaking strategies are discussed in those sections, but the use of such methods supports effective classroom discussion. Students must collaborate and discuss, with a purpose in mind, the text or ideas before them. Here you see three students using Episodic Notes to support their discussion of a short story they are reading together. Their discussion has a further purpose: as they read, they interrupt each other to clarify, ask questions, make connections so they build an understanding as they go along.|
|Add Structure and Purpose to Discussions: I discussed this strategy in greater detail in the Graphic Strategies section. Let me just emphasize here that the use of such techniques provides a useful structure for class discussions. Another approach calls for individuals or groups to fill in the outlines on their own and then use those notes as a sort of script to support their participation in the class discussion.|
|Post-It Annotations: Again, this strategy is discussed in more detail in the Notetaking Strategy section. I want only to point out that a page like you see here supports productive classroom discussions by allowing students or the teacher to ask the student, "So what did you write down on your Post-Its on that page?" The student thus feels supported because they can simply read what they have. This scripted support builds the capacity of those who do not feel comfortable participating in classroom discussion.|
|Use the Board to Support Effective Discussions : The board is an essential means of beginning and extending conversations in the class. Here you see an example of the class creating, through group and full-class discussion, what will eventually become the rubric for the Digital Textbook. I use the board in such situations to capture what they are saying and provide some focus or record to which we can refer.|
Use Reciprocal Teaching: These students in my freshman honors English class work together (as everyone else in class is doing) to read, discuss, and make notes using a graphic organizer designed to help them learn who all the characters are. The novel Jasmine, which we read as part of their integrated world cultures course (taught by the Social Studies teacher), has many characters, jumps in time, and shifts in location. I used reciprocal teaching here to allow students to get a solid understanding who is who and how the text works before moving ahead in the text. Setting up a good foundation early on prevents confusion and problems later. .