Classoom Discussions is the topic I want to share with you this month!
Hard to believe that two months have passed. Halloween has just passed, Remembrance/Memorial Day and the dredded report cards are just around the corner.
Have a look at my page on report cards to get suggestions and ideas before you start writing them.
Now on to classroom discussions - what is their purpose and how do we plan and lead them successfully.
The lecture method of teaching is all well and good for many of the lessons you teach - raise your hand and don't speak without permission.
However to stimulate interaction, involving everyone, class discussion is a great teaching technique and to me it's a valuable asset and a powerful teaching and learning vehicle.
Leading a class discussion requires good judgement, precise skills, thorough planning and asking the right kinds of questions. You don't want it to deteriorate into a social hour or a one-to-one interaction between you the teacher and a student. Your students will become bored, passively listening or become involved in their own private activity.
Keep in mind that you need to involve everyone in the classroom discussion. Ask the question first, then ask a student and have a student summarize in his/her own words what another student has said. You want your class attentive, focused and to be active listeners.
There are 3 types of questions to keep all your students interested and involved and all three types must be used continually and accordingly. They are FACT, OPINION and FEELING.
1. FACT Questions - Ask students to relate the facts to the class, e.g. "Name three Beatles albums." or "What did they discover when they landed on the moon?". Of course, fact giving is a necessary part of classroom discussions, but it may do little to stimulate further discussion.
2. OPINION Questions - These types of questions make the students think about the subject being discussed. There are no right or wrong answers (less threatening) and most kids do have an opinion, e.g. "Why do you think the Beatles were so popular?" or "Why do you think it's important to explore the moon?".
Do keep in mind, that you as a teacher want to create a warm and comfortable environment where your students feel free to take risks and share their own opinions. You don't want them to give the opinion that you believe.
3. FEELING Questions - Obviously, these questions ask them how they feel about something. These types of questions are relatively safe as they are entitled to express their own feelings, e.g. " How did you feel when you heard that John Lennon was assassinated?" or " How would you feel if your parent was an astronaut and asked to explore the moon?".
To truly demonstrate students knowledge of the subject being discussed, all 3 types of questions must be introduced. Besides the facts, these questions need to explore view points, impressions and reactions.
When the whole class is involved, a classroom discussion gives students an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned and also to learn from their peers.
We, as teachers, need to show students how to talk constructively. These 3 types of questions are the keys to meaningful and exciting classroom discussions.
"Just as our eyes need light in order to see, our minds need ideas in order to conceive". Nicholas Malebranche
Have a great month everyone.
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