Classroom Discussion Methods

Thinking back to my past few months student teaching, I can both identify ways that classroom discussion strategies have already been implemented in my classroom, as well as some new ones I may want to try. Concerning what I’ve already seen of these discussion methods, I know my students have played philosophical chairs in the lesson they are currently learning on impeachment. Students were posed the question of whether or not they thought Bill Clinton was deserving of impeachment and had students with opposing views stand on opposite sides of the room. Then, myself and my CT acted as moderators in the middle of the room and had students take turns defending their point of view. They were strongly encouraged to use evidence to support their view from articles we had read on the topic throughout the week. I thought this was a successful method for discussion and really gave my students who enjoy having their voice heard an appropriate setting for that. However, with such a large class, I did notice some of my more timid students try to fade into the background and try to offer as little to the conversation as possible. This is something my CT and I have discussed and will work on in further implementations of this strategy in class.

As far as implementing a new discussion strategy in my classroom, I actually really enjoyed participating in the fish bowl activity this past week in class. I think this discussion method may offer a possible solution to the issue that was present during philosophical chairs: not everyone getting the chance to speak. In a future lesson, I can easily see myself trying the fish bowl strategy and have students “tap in/tap out” with another student in the class to make sure that all of my students participate in the activity. Furthermore, this activity allows everyone in the class to take part in the activity with the presence of students that are taking notes on what the speaker is saying. This will give my students who have a tendency to be off task (especially with something like a classroom discussion) something to do that proves that they are paying attention to what is being said by their classmates. Although I haven’t implemented this strategy in my classroom just yet, I am very hopeful that my students will enjoy it.

One Reply to “Classroom Discussion Methods”

  1. Your philosophical chairs reminds me of a few other spacial-oriented discussion formats:
    1. Have a question that involves 3 or 4 portions and have them stand in appropriate areas. (not as simple as binary discussion)
    2. Poll them early – pros stand on one side / cons other / undecided in the middle of the room. As undecided are “persuaded” to pro or con position, they move to that part of the room.
    3. Pose a question that has a continuum answer (like most support to least) or something with a quantitative response. Then ask them to stand and by questioning each other sort themselves into a line that matches the response. (I used this in summer workshop)
    4. Set up a “speed dating” dialog that has a rotating inner / outer circle. Or two sliding lines. Great for sharing ideas and getting quick feedback.

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