Discussions are a valuable way to engage students in their own learning. Through thoughtful contribution, students get interested in the topic and begin to delve deeper in processing information. It also invites them to come prepared to class, formulate their own ideas and build on their peers’ contributions, fostering deeper thinking and collaboration.
Before diving deep into student discussion, be sure YOU are ready. That might mean talking less! Remember that you are the guide for their learning. For example, when giving a prompt for discussion, resist the temptation to say anything until they have had a chance to speak.
One way to get students involved is with low stakes exercises like “Think, Pair, Share” where students are giving a discussion point to ponder alone. Then they pair with another student and share. Students can be shy about talking in front of a large class, but with one other classmate, sharing is easier and it also gives each the affirmation that their thoughts are right on target! Once they have shared with peers, invite them to share with the whole class.
Below are a few links on benefits and on encouraging student discussion: