Discussion as a Way of Teaching. STEPHEN BROOKFIELD. Why Discussions Fail. Unprepared Students Unrealistic Expectations No Ground Rules Reward Systems Askew No Teacher Modeling. Creating Ground Rules. Individuals reflect on features of best & worst discussions they’ve experienced
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Bring 3x5 cards to class with moves typed on each of them. Participants choose 1 of these cards randomly.
EXAMPLES OF SPECIFIC MOVES
Ask a question or make a comment that shows you are interested in another’s comments
Make a comment that underscores the link between 2 previous contributions
Make a comment clearly building on what someone else has said - make this link explicit
Make a summary observation on a recurring theme in the discussion
Express appreciation for how another’s comments have helped your understanding
Disagree with someone in a respectful way
Type out 5-6 provocative quotes from assigned reading on a 3x5 card (each quote will be on several cards)
Put these in a hat & have participants choose a card at random
Participants take turns (at their choosing) to respond to these quotes - or to earlier comments on these quotes
Each participant brings in a quote she wishes to affirm, & one she wishes to challenge, from the assigned reading
Quotes to affirm - resonate with experience, explain difficult concepts clearly, add significant new information, are cogently expressed, are rhetorically powerful etc.
Quotes to challenge - immoral/unethical, poorly expressed, factually wrong, contradict experience
Quotes are shared in small groups & each group chooses ONE to affirm & ONE to challenge
In large group conversation the small group communicates rationales for each of these choices
Individuals reflect on a topic for discussion
Form into circles of 6-8
One person starts by giving her reflections on the topic. Up to 1 minute allowed - no interruptions
Person to left of 1st speaker goes next - whatever she says MUST somehow refer to/build on previous speaker’s comments (can be a disagreement or express confusion). Up to 1 minute allowed - no interruptions
Process continues leftwards around the circle with people speaking in order until all have participated
Group moves into open conversation with no particular ground rules in force
AND SO ON & SO ON!!
(An alternative way to move from small to whole group discussion)
Small groups record their deliberations on newsprint sheets and hang these on the wall - a blank sheet hangs next to each group’s posting
Staying in their small groups, each group visits the posting next to theirs - as a group they post their reactions to the posting on the blank sheets
Group’s rotate until they arrive at their own posting. They review all the previous groups’ comments
Whole class discussion follows on how groups reacted to other groups’ postings
(This helps take the performance anxiety off students’shoulders)
Facilitator begins by sharing her views on the topic
Facilitator chooses who will speak next - this person can pass but then chooses who will speak in their turn
No-one can interrupt the chosen speaker
Once all have spoken participants move into open discussion with no ground rules
Umpire enforces ground rules throughout
These are anonymously completed - the instructor reads these & reports main findings at start of next class with time for discussion (if needed)
What do you know that you didn’t know this time last week?
What can you do that you couldn’t do this time last week?
What could you teach someone else to know or do that you couldn’t teach them this time last week?
Tell students you reserve 5-10 minutes at the end of the discussion to offer your thoughts
On a notepad record:-
- clear errors of fact or understanding,
- perspectives that are ignored,
- oppositional views that are smothered
Articulate these for 5-10 minutes before giving participants ‘the last word’ & the CIQ
Brookfield & Preskill (2006)
Education, Democracy & Discussion
Active Talk: The Effective Use of Discussion in Learning Van Ments (1990)
Discussion-Based Online Teaching to Enhance Student Learning