Methods for Discussion That Engage All Students

Methods for Discussion That Engage All Students

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Methods for Discussion That Engage All Students

A crucial component of education for both the development of skills and the establishment of connections is the exchange of ideas and knowledge among students. However, with more than 25 students in a classroom, it is nearly impossible to meaningfully hear from each English language arts student in grades 6-12.

Even though I enjoy great group discussions, I rarely get everyone to really participate unless I make an effort. As a result, I devised a few methods that would enable me to hear from every student while also boosting engagement and deepening student thought. These techniques are convenient because they can be carried out by a substitute or even a student (if you make prior arrangements), and they are effective regardless of whether you are present in the classroom.

Methods for Discussion That Engage All Students


Just like that, these are: Silent. Discussions. During a class observation, English teacher Wendy Bichler in Ashley, North Dakota, demonstrated this method. Understudies compose their reactions to different prompts and questions. Everyone has an opportunity to respond to the question, including those who require additional time to process it and those who are reluctant to share with the entire class.

The silence can be difficult at first, but it allows for intense concentration and a respite from the clamor of school, both of which are valuable in and of themselves. This method is a great way to start or end a unit and works as a bell ringer or main activity.

How to: Give one or two blank sheets of paper to each student. Post an inquiry, picture, quote, image, issue, or whatever else you’d like understudies to answer. I suggest projecting the questions onto a slide deck so that they are easy to see because you will be posting multiple questions.

The process is as follows:

Each response is signed by students on their papers. Begin with two minutes and adjust according to the pencil activity. Give students the option of writing in sentences or lists because the ideas are more important than the prose.

Change the papers. Students respond to the writing of their previous classmate. If you want to encourage students to write more, you could also post another question.) Rotate. For students to interact with one another’s thoughts and responses, repeat each question two to four times.

Create a new inquiry. As before, do it as many times as you want.

Sub tip: Preprint the questions, one for each student, so that the sub doesn’t have to deal with school technology. Since I rarely had more than 25 questions, I made two or three copies of each question for the subplans. Collect the questions so that they are distributed evenly throughout the room.

By asking students to respond to questions with quotes from the assignment or textbook, you can strengthen the connections; or as a fictional character, historical figure, or other persona; or on the other hand with fast exploration (with a telephone or other gadget).


Similar to a silent discussion, but with students rotating papers instead, this is similar. Post each prompt or question on a large sticky note or piece of paper, either printed or written on. Every two to three minutes, students rotate and select a “poster” to complete.

The poster walk was more content-focused for me: Students looked up information, cited passages, and used their books. Several posters had two sections: on the off chance that an understudy finished section A, an alternate understudy finished part B. Prepared the other day, it’s one more basic arrangement for a substitute.

How to: Place prompts and questions around the room (post more questions than students).

The time allotted for students’ responses is two to three minutes; They may utilize their textbook, materials, or text.

Rotate. As directed on the poster, respond to what others have written or add a new idea.

Use the posters to guide discussion the following day to strengthen connections. Students or groups can also write character responses to the analysis or content of the poster.

OPTION  3: Group discussion on poster rotation.

This strategy is intended for small groups and becomes loud, whereas the first two are solo and silent. The posters are broken up into smaller tasks based on the material you want students to talk about or the skills you want them to develop. While you rotate to support, nudge, and assist, students collaborate and get involved. This got students talking, participating, and working together even at 7:45 in the morning.

How to: First, determine the desired number of groups. Then, with one less task than the number of groups, create one poster for each group. For instance: Set up six posters with five tasks each for each of the six groups; So, each group gets their own original poster.

The first task is answered and completed collaboratively by students. Make posters rotate. The second task is completed after the groups discuss what the previous group wrote. Continue rotating until each group has seen all of the posters and has their own original poster. Note: You could break up the group into smaller ones and make two sets of each poster.) The groups then combine what each person wrote.

Follow up with a conventional gallery walk to strengthen the connections: Hang similar posters together from all of your classes’ posters. Each student should be given three sticky notes, and they should write down their top three favorite insights from all of the posters. Make use of the sticky notes for the discussion that day (whether in small groups or as a class).

A jigsaw can also be used as a follow-up: The students review their poster (as well as those from other sections) in their original groups. To compare and contrast posters, groups assign themselves numbers from one to six (depending on the size of the group) and regroup by number.

Group discussions are great, but it’s not enough to just use one method to ensure that every student is heard. These methods have the potential to aid in the development of skills and confidence, both of which can enhance subsequent group discussions.

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