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Structured Silence. In 15 minute intervals (more or less) students write ONE of the following on a 3x5 card: most important point, most puzzling point, question they’d most like to discuss, something newly learned in the discussion so far.

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Structured Silence

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structured silence
Structured Silence
  • In 15 minute intervals (more or less) students write ONE of the following on a 3x5 card:
    • most important point,
    • most puzzling point,
    • question they’d most like to discuss,
    • something newly learned in the discussion so far.
  • Teacher has ready, and adds to the pile, a few cards that prompt students who draw these to either (1) name topics not addressed or (2) summarize ideas set out along the way
  • Shuffle cards so students randomly draw cards they will read out. As an added dimension, student can be prompted to first read and respond to idea on the card they’ve drawn – expand an idea, link it to a reading, point out a related – but ignored so far – point.
discussion inventory
Discussion Inventory
  • For an early class you facilitate, then for full class discussions facilitated by students:
    • Tell students you reserve 5-10 minutes at the end of the discussion to offer your thoughts
    • During the discussion, use paper or computer to record
      • clear errors of fact or understanding,
      • perspectives that are ignored,
      • oppositional views that are smothered.
  • To wrap the discussion share feedback from your notes for 5-10 minutes, then ask students write out ideas for righting such discussions, or let trio groups have time for a “last word” brainstorming.
hatful of quotes
Hatful of Quotes
  • Print 5-6 provocative quotes from assigned reading (use pre-perforated 3x5 card stock single sheets of paper you can cut into fours; the idea is to have several copies of a few select quotations)
  • Put these in a hat from which participants randomly choose a single card (if you’ve placed a color coded marking on the cards, you have a way to organized students by groups)
  • Participants take turns (at their choosing) to respond to these quotes and/or earlier comments and quotes – via shared word document, triad discussions, whole class conversation.
  • “Scribe” roles can be assigned in any of these forums so that key points, new questions, emerging understandings can be noted by students as well as teacher across the discussion. Ideas might be captured via a shared Google doc or photographing whiteboard notes for later posting to Moodle.
  • Note: some colleagues have put problems to be solved into the hat.
quotes to affirm challenge
Quotes to Affirm & Challenge
  • Each participant brings in a quote from assigned reading she wishes to affirm, and one she wishes to challenge.
    • Quotes to affirm - resonate with experience, explain difficult concepts clearly, add significant new information, are cogently expressed, are rhetorically powerful
    • 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. This can be done in silence with “discussion” via a shared sheet of paper or word document.
  • In large group conversation the small group communicates (1) rationales for each of these choices, (2) connections among ideas, (3) perspectives that are privileged as well as silenced.
nominating questions
Nominating Questions
  • Small groups come up with 1-2 questions they want to discuss further
  • Groups post questions on large Post-Its or on segments of white board or in a shared document
  • Students individually put a check against 2 questions they would like to discuss more
  • Whole class discussion is structured around questions with most votes. Discussion can start in triads or quartets and snowball to larger numbers.
  • Once questions are selected, offer a 2-3 minute period for generative writing – individuals, or trios with a single sheet of paper, or phrases under the question selected & transcribed to whiteboard.
newsprint dialogue world cafe
Newsprint Dialogue / World Cafe
  • In small groups students collaborate to articulates responses to discussion prompt / problem-solving scenario on newsprint sheets – using words, drawings, diagrams in combination.
  • Blank sheets are added beside what each group has generated (or a second column added on white board or in a word document)
  • Individual participants with markers – and a new prompt from the facilitator – move around the room to further annotate the postings: adding questions, reactions, agreements, extensions of ideas.
  • Groups reassemble at their postings to see what others have written, and then…
chalk talk
Chalk Talk
  • Facilitator / Teacher writes a question in the center of the board & circles it – putting this up in the 10 minutes before class starts is the frequent suggestion
  • As they enter the room – or as homework before class begins, or as a new segment of discussion starts – participants write their responses to question directly on the white board or into a shared word document.
  • As responses accumulate participants draw lines between responses to show connections/differences, or even create diagrams to show relationships or insert new information.
  • Facilitator takes a small role in adding to responses, but mainly frames next questions / comments to launch discussion or other learning activity.
rotating stations gallery walk
Rotating Stations / Gallery Walk
  • 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, group move around the room, first visiting the posting next to theirs - as a group they post their reactions to the posting on the blank sheets
  • Groups continue torotate until return to their own posting. They review all the previous groups’comments – make additions, connections, and create essential messages, talking points, questions.
  • Whole class discussion follows as individual groups share their responses to what others have posted.
appreciative pause
Appreciative Pause

Comments allowed only that thank people for…

  • An asked question that suggested a new line of thinking
  • Commenting to clarify a confusing idea / process
  • Introducing an new idea or piece of information
  • Illuminating a connection between a set of ideas
  • Offering an example to help illustrate a difficult concept
  • Speaking honestly to share a dissenting viewpoint
  • Sharing insights learned from others – in or beyond course

Comments may be spoken in a 5-7 minute span when students mingle at close of class session, or may be typed into a forum such as ChimeIn to collect overall sense of appreciations linked to a just completed session.

discussion learning audit
Discussion Learning Audit
  • From this sentence stem: “As a result of today’s discussion …”
  • Students address:
    • 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?
    • I learned this because of speaking my ideas:
    • I learned this by listening to others speak:
designated listeners drawers
Designated Listeners & Drawers
  • Ahead of a class session, randomly or with a plan you have devised, assign one or a few students to primarily listening & questioning roles during a discussion.
  • Designated listeners will know they are expected to summarize threads, themes, missed opportunities and overall trends.
  • Here’s how Brookfield sets it out:
    • Listen to understand the words spoken rather than thinking “What to say next?”
    • Strive to understand the point before either approving or criticizing.
    • Take note of points of agreement as well as disagreement within the group.
    • Raise questions with participants that help clarify and explain key points.
    • Raise questions with participants that extend and deepen the conversation.
    • Forget about what others in the group are feeling about a speaker’s comments.
    • Attend to a speaker’s level of confidence and be ready to support him or her.
student s elf evaluation of discussion
Student Self-Evaluation of Discussion
  • What ideas, questions or information did I contribute to the discussion today?
  • How did I try to encourage another student to speak today?
  • What did I learn from the discussion today? (New information, a new understanding of something already covered, an idea to follow up after the discussion etc.)
  • How did I make connections between what different people were saying today?

Collect these from students – anonymously or with names; regularly or at four key points in the term. But first, have students review their responses to summarize developments they’ve seen in their own skills as discussion speakers, listeners, facilitators.

ciq critical incidents questionnaire
CIQ – Critical Incidents Questionnaire
  • At what moment in class today did you feel most engaged with what was happening?
  • At what moment in class today did you feel most distanced from what was happening?
  • What action that anyone (teacher or student) took in class today did you find most affirming and helpful?
  • What action that anyone (teacher or student) took in class today did you find most puzzling or confusing?
  • What about this class surprised you the most? (Your own reactions to what went on? Something that someone did? Something missing?)

Brookfield collects CIQs at regular intervals, speaking with students about trends / insights in a next class session, then working with students on adjustments, moving forward in continuing to create a classroom where there is room for speaking and reflecting, agreeing and dissenting, and making discussion from all of these.