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