What is Discussion ?

A discussion is an oral exploration of a topic, object, concept or experience. All learners need frequent opportunities to generate and share their questions and ideas in small and whole class settings. Teachers who encourage and accept students' questions and comments without judgement and clarify understandings by paraphrasing difficult terms stimulate the exchange of ideas.

What is its purpose?

  • to help students make sense of the world
  • to stimulate thought, wonder, explanation, reflection and recall
  • to provide opportunities for students to clarify and expand their ideas and those of others
  • to promote positive group interaction and conversation
  • to demonstrate questioning techniques

How can I do it?

  • Open-ended Discussions:
    • Open-ended discussions begin with a sincere question (to which there is no one correct or concise answer) posed by teacher or student.
    • All listeners consider the question.
    • Incorporate pauses after students' responses to encourage extended or different responses.
    • Clarify students' responses when necessary.
    • Establish student-student dialogues during the discussion whenever possible.
    • Respect students' questions and their responses.
    • Model the role of sensitive listener, collaborator, mediator, prompter, learning partner and questioner.
  • Guided Discussions:
    • Guided discussions begin with teacher-posed questions that promote the exploration of a particular theme, topic or issue.
    • Through discussion, students should achieve a deeper understanding of the topic.
    • After some time is spent on teacher-directed questioning, students should be encouraged to facilitate discussions by continuing to formulate and pose questions appropriate to the topic of study.
  • Talking Stick Circles or Discussions:
    • Talking stick circles or discussions can be used to encourage students to reflect on experiences or discuss feelings.
    • The students gather in a circle.
    • The participant holding an assigned object or the talking stick has the option of speaking while other circle participants listen.
    • Once speakers have shared their comments and opinions, they pass the stick or object to the person next to them.
    • Talking circles can be used with a large group or small groups, or with inner-outer circle formations.
    • Inner-outer circle participants gather in two circles.
    • The students in the outer circle listen to the discussion taking place in the inner circle, then exchange places and become active participants in the inner circle

How can I adapt it?

Assessment and Evaluation Considerations

  • Observe students' participation and conduct in large and small group discussions.
  • Note which students rarely or never ask questions.
  • Note the settings, topics, concepts or objects which stimulate the most discussion.

Teacher Resources

 

 


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