Rethinking Whole Class Discussion | Edutopia

Edutopia blogger Todd Finley considers whole class discussion and presents ample research about what works best. Read the whole article source below.

Source: Rethinking Whole Class Discussion | Edutopia

Whole class discussions are, after lecture, the second most frequently used teaching strategy, one mandated by the Common Core State Standards because of its many rewards: increased perspective-taking, understanding, empathy, and higher-order thinking, among others. These benefits, however, do not manifest without a skillful and knowledgeable facilitator.

Unfortunately, a preponderance of evidence demonstrates that many teachers mistakenly conflate discussion with recitation. “Typical teacher-student discourse resembles a quiz show, with teachers asking a question, the student replying, and the teacher evaluating the student’s response. This is called initiation-response-evaluation, ‘I-R-E,’ or recitation.”1

The Mechanics of In-Class Discussion

Follow-Up Questions

Ian Wilkinson defines authentic follow-up as “questions that the teacher is genuinely interested in exploring and that evoke a variety of responses from students (in other words, the answer is not pre-specified).” Good follow-up questions expand the conversation and require students to:

  • Clarify their answers: Tell me more about that.
  • Support their answers: What about the reading made you think that ___?
  • Argue: Convince us that __.
  • Examine their responses more fully: In what other context does that idea play out?
  • Consider different perspectives: What would you say to someone who thought ___?
  • Predict: What do you think that we will discover in the next chapter?
  • Hypothesize: How would handle a situation like ___?
  • Decide: So, this leads to you to what conclusions?
  • Compare: How is your answer different or the same from others?
  • Generalize: What did you discover?




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