I appreciated our topic in class this week about facilitating discussions in the classroom. My students love collaborating with each other! This enthusiasm lends itself well to incorporating discussions into my class periods. Between the three classes I am teaching right now, I have students from all grades in high school. It seems to be a common characteristic across my classes that students enjoy exploring course content best when they are given the opportunity to learn together.
My students have participated in Philosophical Chairs style discussions, Socratic Seminars on a variety of topics, countless think-pair-share activities with their “Squads” (table groups), and silent discussions (where instead of verbally stating their thoughts, students write their responses on posters around the classroom).
My favorite discussion so far this year was in my AP Human Geography class. After discussing the benefits and drawbacks of globalization on our world for one class period and watching a Crash Course World History video about globalization, students were instructed to fill out a t-chart with benefits on one side and complications on the other. At the bottom of their page they summarized their current stance on globalization: for or against. We conducted a Philosophical Chairs style discussion where students split and stand on the “for” or “against” side of the classroom. As students deliver compelling arguments (supported by evidence!) students who have had their opinion swayed are allowed to move freely from one side of the class to the other. My students were champs! This discussion was not only informative, but the class had fun.
Hearing my peers share how they lead discussions in their own classes helped me gain some new strategies, and new twists on discussion styles my students are already familiar with. I also liked many of the ideas listed in the toolkit. Some of these are quick and simple, and I hope to use them as we introduce new content at the beginning of a class or to help students recap and summarize their learning at the end of a class period. I am excited to bring these new ideas to my students – I hope to keep providing opportunities for them to collaborate and be creative!
For anyone looking to learn about globalization, here is the link to the John Green Crash Course World History video.