I very much appreciated the opportunity to talk about classroom discussion techniques. Classroom discussion is one of those areas in education that people talk about methods in terms of theory, but hearing how they work out in practice was very helpful.
I think the most important piece that I took away from our discussion, and am still considering, is how to make students accountable for listening to others. I have discussed this with teachers and staff at my school during professional development workshops too, and am still looking for ways to implement accountable listening in a meaningful way, It seems that most students come to class with the assumption that they are not responsible for acknowledging and knowing the ideas of their classmates, and that is the thing that accountable listening strategies need to be able to undercut.
I like using the smaller scale discussion strategies to encourage students to think about the material and get comfortable communicating their thoughts to others. I have found the Prediction Pairs and Think Pair Share to be really easy ways of engaging students in conversation with each other. Another method I am going to try is Give One, Get One, where students have to find a partner, give their answer, and then write down the other person’s answer. With this method I will be implementing both a classroom discussion strategy as well as an accountable listening strategy.