Hi! I am Kelly Malloy from An Apple for the Teacher, and I am so excited to be posting over here on Minds in Bloom! I am a fourth grade teacher in Northern Nevada who believes that my students learn just as much talking to each other as they do talking to me.
Classroom discussions are a great way to develop speaking and listening skills while allowing the students to construct their own learning. Here are 10 of my favorite classroom discussion techniques:
Following a reading assignment, have students generate higher level questions and write them down on slips of paper. During discussion when the conversation slows down, pull one of the slips out to keep the conversation going.
Fish Bowl Inner & Outer Circle
This strategy can be used separately or in combination with the question slips above. In this strategy three to five students stand in a small inner circle. The rest of the class stands in an outer circle surrounding them. Pose a question to the students in the inner circle. As they discuss the question, the outer circle listens in.
If a student from the outer circle wants to join the conversation, they tap the shoulder of one of the students in the inner circle, and they switch places.
In this activity all students must enter the inner circle at least two times. They are not allowed to tap the shoulder of an inside student unless they have made at least two comments. This keeps the conversation moving fairly quickly and the outside circle engaged in active listening. If my students are not paying attention, then I ask them to take notes on the discussion of the inner circle.
Students stand in two circles (an inner and an outer circle). Pose a question. The inner circle answers the question while their partner from the outer circle listens in. Repeat the question and have the outer circle answer. They must add something different than what their partner said. This helps to teach both elaboration and listening skills.
After both partners have had an opportunity to answer the question, have the inner circle rotate three people to find a new partner. Repeat the questioning method above.
Give One, Get One
Students fold a paper lengthwise into two columns. They write everything they learned from a reading assignment or a class lesson in the left-hand column. The more they write, the better.
Students then write the numbers 1-10 (skipping lines) on the right-hand side. Students then go around the room to find 10 different people with ideas they didn’t have on their own paper.
Pass the Butcher Paper
Display the following categories in four corners of the room: strongly agree, agree, disagree, and strongly disagree. Before reading give students a handout with statements about the topic along with the same categories. Ask students to read each statement and circle what they believe about that statement. Then, read each statement out loud and ask students to walk to the corner of the room that has that sign. The students at each corner should share why they chose what they did. Have a volunteer from each side share their opinion.
Facts of Five
Students write five main ideas or thoughts they have after reading a text. Ask students to form groups of three. Their job is to talk through each of their lists and narrow their 15 thoughts down to five of the most important ideas. That group of three then joins another group of three to narrow their list of 10 down to five. Each group shares out their thoughts for the class to agree on five main points.
Kelly Malloy is a fourth grade teacher in Northern Nevada. She is also the mom of six boys who keep her very busy! Make sure to visit her blog, An Apple for the Teacher, and her Teachers Pay Teachers store for even more ideas!