Getting Students to Participate: Encouraging Discussion
The other day a new teacher approached me and asked how I encourage student participation / open discussions in the classroom. I guess I was taken aback as I had never really thought about this before.
As we sat down I quickly began to realize how eager I was to explore this topic. I welcomed the opportunity to take a closer look at – to reflect upon – a little of what I do here every day.
Encouraging Discussion in the Classroom:
- Create a seating plan that encourages discussion, e.g. in a circle, a horseshoe or sitting in a circle on the carpet.
- Choose interesting topics – topics that speak to students.
- Ask open ended questions.
- Allow for processing time – introduce the topics/questions “ahead of time” & then afford students the opportunity to think, reflect, jot notes, write, etc. before beginning the discussion.
- Afford students the opportunity to discuss the topic/concept with a friend or in small groups first – then engage in a whole group discussions.
- Create an environment in which students are leaders and teachers are facilitators.
- Establish/review the ground rules prior to discussions.
- Create an active, organic, respectful, exciting and encouraging environment.