Critical Thinking through Class Discussion by Sue Vaughn
Class discussion should be an exciting opportunity for learning. If students (or you) feel that you could miss class discussions with no loss, then you may need to revise your methods.
- Recognize that class discussions require just as much planning as any other lesson.
- Questions should be developed in advance and, if possible, should be posted on the day of discussion.
- If there are prerequisites for the discussion, such as reading a particular passage, it is important to confirm that all participants have completed the task.
- The teacher should model at least one “good” response.
- Teach students to have good manners, such as “I’d like to add an alternative comment to Anna” rather than “Anna’s stupid comment shows that she is an idiot.”
- If there are English language learners in the classroom, every respondent should have the opportunity to “rehearse” their answer. For example, “turn to the student next to you and answer this question….”
- All students should have an opportunity to answer and all should answer aloud at some point. Blurters should be stopped.
- The best seating for full participation is a circle – no matter how large.
- It is difficult to grade a discussion, but you can certainly grade a short essay about “what I learned from today’s discussion.”
- At the conclusion of an excellent discussion, take brief notes to put with your materials. What sparked the teachable moment?
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