Engaging learners in discussion some important strategies for plenaries
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Engaging learners in discussion: some important strategies for plenaries. The study in context.

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The study in context
The study in context

This study looked at how interactive classrooms operate and the strategies teachers employ to support pupils’ shared and individual learning e.g. through the use of exploration and discussion. Many of these strategies will be important for teachers wishing to make the most effective use of plenaries.


Feedback strategies teachers used to create interactive classrooms
Feedback strategies teachers used to create interactive classrooms

  • In lessons teachers

    • builton pupils’ responses

    • encouraged students to feedback to each other

    • used pupils’ input to shape lessons


Techniques for building on pupils responses to establish dialogue
Techniques for building on pupils’ responses to establish dialogue

  • Teachers used prompts such as “oh”, “ooh”, “ah”, gave opinions and drew on personal experiences, e.g.

    • Pupil: Ehm, it’s a guitar with laser strings…it’s for teenagers that actually know how to play the guitar

    • Teacher: Ah, now I have to say I think that’s going to appeal to people who play guitar. I know my sister plays the guitar, it drives her mad every time the strings break


Encouraging children to feedback to each other
Encouraging children to feedback to each other dialogue

  • Teachers invited pupils to respond to each others’ answers written on miniature white boards – for example:

    - Teacher: Ok ready three, two, one, show me, brilliant, [pupil’s name] read it out for me please.

    - Pupil: Four…four hundred and twenty thousand.

    - Teacher: [Pupil] thinks she’s got four hundred and twenty thousand, anybody want to disagree?


Drawing on pupils input to shape lessons
Drawing dialogueon pupils’ input to shape lessons

  • Teachers actively engaged pupils in developing the lesson – for example

    - Pupil: You could rotate it [a shape] and then that would fit.

    - Teacher: Ooh rotate it then

    - Pupil: Ok, ehm right [laughs]... pause as pupil tries to draw rotated shape

    - Teacher: It is a bit tricky isn’t it? Can you on the whiteboards in front of you try and rotate the shape? [teacher opens the task to the whole class]


How did teachers use open questions and open ended tasks to stimulate discussion
How did teachers use open questions and open ended tasks to stimulate discussion?

  • Teachers used open questions which invited multiple answers and encouraged students to discuss and negotiate a final answer – for example

    • Teacher: Ok what things are important in instructions? If we were going to write a checklist for when I do this with my class next year, what things would you say to them? What would have to be in your instructions?


How did teachers use closed questions to stimulate interaction
How did teachers use closed questions to stimulate interaction?

  • Effective teachers used closed questions to build on pupils’ thinking and draw in others’ responses, e.g. the teacher is explaining that multiplying by 100 is the same as multiplying by 10 and then 10 again, a pupil asked the following commented:

    - Pupil: You know when you times it by 20, you do two 10s.

  • Teacher: No, think carefully it’s not two 10s is it, its 1 times 10 and then you?

    - Pupil: Double it.

  • Teacher: Do you see where you went wrong there?


Who were the students in the study
Who were the students in the study? interaction?

  • The researchers observed and analysed teacher- pupil interaction in 213 primary literacy and numeracy lessons (114 Year 5 literacy and numeracy lessons in 2003, and 99 Year 5 and 6 lessons in 2004)


How was the information gathered
How was the information gathered? interaction?

  • The researchers observed and analysed classroom interactions over a two year period

  • They used hand held computers and video to record lessons

  • They selected five literacy and five numeracy lessons that showed the most interaction to investigate teacher behaviours in more detail


How can teachers use this evidence
How can teachers use this evidence? interaction?

  • The study found that teachers played a key part in creating and maintaining effective discussion.

  • Why not record a plenary discussion in a lesson calling up where you hope your pupils will contribute well and work with them or another teacher to spot the things that were most helpful:

    • Whatrole did you play in helping those discussions?

    • Are there any particularly effective strategies you used that you would use again? You might particularly want to think about your use of open and closed questions.


How can school leaders use this evidence
How can school leaders use this evidence? interaction?

  • The study found that some teachers were effective in stimulating discussion in their classrooms and others less so. How effective are staff in your school in exploiting the potential of interactive teaching and learning in plenaries?

    • Do you have staff members who are effective promoters of classroom dialogue? Could you engage them in supporting other staff who are trying to develop in this area?

    • Would it be helpful to set up a plenary “detective” team to uncover best practice and to work with a group of teachers offering it and partners keen to develop it to create some shared guidelines for experimenting with new approaches?


Follow up reading
Follow-up reading interaction?

  • Study reference: Smith, H. & Higgins, S. Opening classroom interaction: the importance of feedback (2006) Cambridge Journal of Education Vol. 36, No. 4, pp. 485-502

  • The GTCs Research of the Month (RoM) website presents a number of research summaries that cover relevant fields of interest such as dialogue and AfL. The RoMs can be found at:http://www.gtce.org.uk/research/romtopics/


Feedback
Feedback interaction?

  • Did you find this useful?

  • What did you like?

  • What didn’t you like?

    Any feedback on this Research Bite

    would be much appreciated. Please email

    your feedback to:

    [email protected]


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