Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Social Teacher: Class Discussion Strategies

I often share teaching ideas from our faculty on this blog under the tag Teacher Ideas, and lately I've been thinking about sharing all the cool teaching resources I see on the web and social media. So, here is the first post in a new series, The Social Teacher.

Cult of Pedagogy is the work of Jennifer Gonzalez, a self-described "teacher nerd." The site collects ideas for people who teach any subject at any level, and she includes both low-prep and high-prep strategies.

I found a recent post on strategies for classroom discussion very interesting. Gonzalez acknowledges a familiar phenomenon - the teacher asks a question like "What do you think of ____?" and a handful of the most extroverted students respond. But, of course, what about the quiet students, or the students who don't feel confident in their understanding of the material? Gonzalez shares a list of 15 classroom discussion strategies to make class time "more engaging, more organized, more equitable, and more academically challenging." I encourage you to read the whole list, but here are some of my favorites.

Hot Seat
"One student assumes the role of a book character, significant figure in history, or concept (such as a tornado, an animal, or the Titanic). Sitting in front of the rest of the class, the student responds to classmates’ questions while staying in character in that role."
Philosophical Chairs
"A statement that has two possible responses—agree or disagree—is read out loud. Depending on whether they agree or disagree with this statement, students move to one side of the room or the other. From that spot, students take turns defending their positions."
Snowball Discussion, aka Pyramid Discussion
"Students begin in pairs, responding to a discussion question only with a single partner. After each person has had a chance to share their ideas, the pair joins another pair, creating a group of four. Pairs share their ideas with the pair they just joined. Next, groups of four join together to form groups of eight, and so on, until the whole class is joined up in one large discussion."

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