Whadya Think?

Post questions, comments, ideas to discuss based on your professional engagement research on discussion-based instruction.
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I like the idea of discussion-based lessons, but for math it only seems feasible as a summative plan. For instance, the video example of the math class used discussion as more of a quiz; it didn't seem like actual discussion to me because most of the time there was only a right/wrong answer. How can I use discussion to initially teach an equation or theory?- kdobler1 kdobler1

Discussion activities rock. I have done 50 min class discussion, but usually 30 minutes works best for me. I think being well prepared, both the students and the teacher is crucial, or the whole thing can really drag and not be as productive. I found the ways to get all students participating to be very helpful. I also liked the suggestions for students who talk too much. Yes, I resemble that remark.- potterkc potterkc

I agree katherine...discussion activities do rock! especially when students take ideas and run....it's very gratifying when students can have a thoughtful, challenging, and respectful dialogue without relying on the teacher for validation or confirmation that they're "right." i agree that giving students questions a day prior can help not only formulate their thoughts, but allow the quieter/shy students to develop ideas they can later share....one of my biggest concerns/challenges with discussion is getting everyone to talk...so many times, (especially when the teacher becomes more of a quiet observer), the more dominate students will take over...i think it's good to ask open questions (meaning anyone can answer), but i also think it's important to call on specific people, so that everyone can have a chance to speak. - nanako_32 nanako_32

I am a big fan of discussions but I liked that the reading emphasized that you should come prepared with specific questions and clear objectives. Just because discussions are flexible doesn't mean they should be a free for all. Most of the reading dealt primarily with the role of a teacher as a facilitator of discussions but I wonder if you could have student led discussions just as often. Maybe the teacher could as a few open ended questions to start and then students could read questions they had prepared before hand. This might allow students to feel more comfortable and relaxed and more invested in the discussion.- Ltormey Ltormey

I LOVED the various techniques that the Janine Schaub site outlined but like Kari, I have a hard time seeing how these could work for chemistry, which is often thought of as a subject with right and wrong answers. However, I think some of these ideas would be awesome for a review and that would really help students get involved and maybe flush out some of their problem areas. I really liked the Hatful of Quotations technique. It will be interesting to explore discussions in a science based class. - marinhatcher marinhatcher

Discussion-based instruction is something that can benefit social studies classrooms a lot! Wading through primary sources and discussing the various perspectives as a group can really help students look all sides of an issue. I especially liked the material about getting non-speakers speaking. As one of these people myself, I really connected with the idea of getting everyone speaking right away. I don't know how many times the minutes would quickly fly by and it was definitely increasingly difficult to speak as time went by. - hutchesonk hutchesonk

As a future social studies teacher I love the discussion based lessons. I remember a humanities class that I loved because of all the Socratic Seminars and student-led discussions. What I really took to heart was look for the student that is ready and wanting to share but isn't raising their hand. Look at the body language! So many times I have wanted to talk yet don't want to raise my hand in fear of taking the floor from someone else. Just because I'm not raising my hand doesn't mean I don't have thoughtful, good things to say! - wbrown84 wbrown84

I can see small group based discussion instruction being particularly helpful in both the math and science disciplines. Limit the topic that is being discussed to maybe one article per group, set up students with a list of key concepts that they need to focus on that are relative to the classes objectives, have them discuss as a group then bring the information to the group at large in a presentation or jig-saw it. I think the biggest challenge of discussion-based learning is the ability to accurately assess students understanding. What are some ways of accurately assessing discussion-based instruction? The paper by Mello goes into a bit of detail about how he assessed his class, however he also says that his evidence is strictly anecdotal but was observed to improve classroom grades (although he also moderately changed his testing structure to better suit discussion-based learning). - ccoffin12 ccoffin12

I think discussion is critical in both Social Studies and English, so developing good discussion skills will be important. One point that really caught my eye was what to do when a student, or a whole class, hasn't done the reading. Do you skip that student and move on? Do you do the readings in class? I think one point the author covered was asking yourself as a teacher if the reading was too difficult or if the students had the tools to do the readings. I think this is a good approach, though it doesn't exactly answer the question.- Matt1777 Matt1777

9:00- 9:15 - Welcome and review (Marin)
Notetaker: Marin, Matt


It is helpful to think of management as an energy issue rather than behavioral.
- Helps reduce frustration with distracting behavior
- Prevents students from feeling your frustration and leads to a more productive class

(How are you coming on your learning contract?)
Post link to web presences on Links page on the 512 homepage

9:15 - 10:00

  • CHIP Writing task to prepare
  • Focus on specific strategies and the participation dilemma
  • Fishbowl Model

  • We need to teach kids how to have civil, informed, respectful, open minded discussions
  • Facilitating discussions teaches so much more than content- major social impacts
  • Teaching them civil discourse allows them to be discriminating of political, social media, pop culture, and other sorts of discussions
  • Ways to facilitate discussion
    • Write good discussion questions
    • Way of keeping track of who has participated (roster, popsicle sticks, etc.)
    • Protocol for discussion (raise hands, shout out answers, etc)
  • Participation structures can privilege types of learners
    • Just waiting for the first hands to go up favors the kids who are faster thinking or more outgoing
  • Ways to ensure quality content while promoting student generated discussion
    • Allow them to keep notes in the conversation from previous research to give the shyer students a resource to fall back on
    • Give students time and a chance to prepare for the discussion
  • What does it mean to "actively participate"?
    • Not just blurting out answers occasionally
    • Involves active listening as well
  • Today's objectives
    • Describe factors that can promote or sabotage high-quality classroom discussion
    • Describe several teaching strategies that can promote discussion and widespread participation
    • Create an activity plan for a discussion-based lesson
    • Explain purposes of differentiation and what it means to differentiate by product, process, and content
  • Ways to cultivate a thinking space
    • Have students write things down
    • Don't call on the first person to raise their hand
    • Share/ discuss with a partner or small group
  • Fishbowl activity (CHIP- Challenged you, Helped you, Inspired you, Perplexed you?)
    • Inner circle- conversation
    • Outer circle- listens to inner circle conversation, can take notes etc.
    • Challenge-
      • It is hard to put together the "perfect" mix of students that allow for optimization of discussion conditions (factors can include culture, gender, shy level, refusal to participate),
      • Can't force students to speak,
      • Hard to incorporate discussion into math/ science classes- challenges with assessment and flow of discussion because science/math are subjects with right/wrong answers (Have discussion beforehand to see what previous knowledge they come to class with, good pre/post activity, hard to incorporate during a lesson, use it as a way to answer other students' questions- allow for peer teaching in small groups)
      • What if kids didn't read? What can you do?
    • Help-
      • Start the discussion with everyone speaking to set the comfort level- even if this initial discussion is not about the topic at hand, teachers need to watch body language
      • website with the different types of discussion- allowed framework for the discussion
      • Have students bring questions to class then turn them in after the discussion- ways of assessment
      • Discuss controversial topics with two valid sides
      • Have students research in class before discussion-assess source bias/ reliability
      • Have a discussion before a test or before the end of a unit---peer teaching
      • Assess preparation and debate quality
    • Inspire-
      • Giving students a new avenue to explore challenging subjects could help them learn
      • Hat of quotes-discuss why something is true or false
      • Give roles other than talking-note taker, question asker
    • Perplexed-
      • How to deal with students that were not present in class for the introduction to a unit, how to prevent wasting two of their days (maybe have an easily accessible syllabus so they can check what was missed)
      • How can we use smart phones / twitter
      • How can we assess discussions
  • Challenges of a fishbowl
    • Students may be uncomfortable inside the inner circle
    • Students can lose interest if they are in the outer circle too long
    • Be cautious of attention spans
    • Different backgrounds can dominate the conversation and potentially exclude someone
  • Positive attributes of a fishbowl
    • Break down social barriers- encourage students who wouldn't normally take center stage to do so
    • Put together groups of kids that may not naturally stick together
    • Students tend to participate more
    • Value in just having to listen without having to contribute

Different kinds of teaching in the video
First video
Teaching slope and undefined slope
Kinesthetic/Physical learning
Story based learning
Cross teaching/group learning
Mix of direct and discussion
"Quiz" as a group
2nd video
Direct teaching
Story about movie with Danny Glover
Teaching slope and undefined slope
3rd video
"Hi. I'm a banana."
Direct instruction
Examples of slopes
Shows how slope is calculated- rise over run
Differentiation- does it matter how we get to the objective as long as we get there?
Best practice for whom?

10:00 - 10:15 - Create Discussion-Based Lesson Rubric
  • Prepare
  • Promote Participation
  • Educative Responses and Affirmation
  • Assessment
  • For each of the categories outlined in the Google Doc, give today's presenter a check if you saw it and brief feedback

10:15 - 10:25 - Break

10:25 - 11:00 - Model Lesson (Constructive Controversy)
  • Groups of four - 2 pro, 2 con
  • Five minutes to prepare an argument
  • Each side has 2 minutes to present their position; other side just listens
  • Other side presents while opposing pair just listens
  • Each side has 3 minutes to prepare the opposite argument
  • Each side presents while the other side listens (2 minutes each)
  • The group of 4 debates and comes to a consensus (5 minutes)

11:00 - 11:20 - NTSG: Establishing a professional working relationship with your cooperating teacher
  • Be a good "guest"
  • Initial conversation
  • Professional communication (e.g. What if you don't agree with your CT?)
    • Tell me about x.
    • As a new teacher, could you help me understand x?
    • Would it be alright if I x?
  • Establishing a set time to communicate.
  • Ways to contribute . . .

11:20 - 12:20 - Lunch and discussion-based activity guides

12:20 - 1:30 - Teaching Demos

1:30 - 1:35 - Break

1:35 - 2:20 - Introduction to Differentiation
Classroom Examples

Differentiation Cue Card

2:20 - 2:40 - TED Talk - Sir Ken Robison

2:40 - 3:00 - Closure and Housekeeping