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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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Discussion as a way of teaching l.jpg

Discussion as a Way ofTeaching

STEPHEN BROOKFIELD


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Why Discussions Fail

  • Unprepared Students

  • Unrealistic Expectations

  • No Ground Rules

  • Reward Systems Askew

  • No Teacher Modeling


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Creating Ground Rules

  • Individuals reflect on features of best & worst discussions they’ve experienced

  • Groups discuss commonly agreed features of best & worst discussions

  • For each feature group asks how can this be encouraged &/or eliminated

  • Class creates ground rules with teacher assistance (the 3 person rule, rotating roles, building on others’ contributions, providing evidence)


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Circle of Voices

  • Individuals reflect on the discussion topic (1-3 minutes)

  • Participants go round the circle in order - each person has up to 1 minute of uninterrupted air time to give their viewpoint on the topic. No interruptions are allowed.

  • Move into free discussion with the ground rule that every comment offered must somehow refer back to a comment made by someone else in the opening circle of voices. This need NOT be agreement - it can be a disagreement, a question, an elaboration or extension, an illustration, and so on.


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3 PERSON RULE

  • ONCE YOU HAVE SPOKEN YOU MAY NOT MAKE ANOTHER COMNTRIBUTION UNTIL AT LEAST 3 OTHERS HAVE SPOKEN - UNLESS SOMEONE ASKS YOU DIRECTLY TO EXPAND ON YOUR COMMENT


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SPIRAL CONVERSATION

  • ONCE YOU HAVE SPOKEN YOU DO NOT SPEAK AGAIN UNTIL EVERYONE IN THE GROUP HAS CONTRIBUTED. FACILITATOR MONITORS THIS PROCESS - LATER CONTRIBUTORS CAN AGREE, DISAGREE OR PASS


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Conversational Moves

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


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Problem Poser

Reflective Analyst

Scrounger

Umpire

Detective

Devil’s Advocate

Theme Spotter

Textual Focuser

Evidential Assessor

Conversational Roles


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Hatful of Quotes

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


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Quotes to Affirm & Challenge

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


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Circular Response(Eduard Lindeman)

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


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Snowballing

  • People spend time individually reflecting on the topic

  • Form into pairs & share reflections

  • Pairs form into quartets

  • Quartets form into octets

    AND SO ON & SO ON!!

    (An alternative way to move from small to whole group discussion)


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Newsprint Dialogue

  • Small groups put their deliberations on newsprint sheets - no reporter is chosen to report these out

  • Newsprint sheets are then posted around the room & blank sheets posted next to each sheet

  • Each participant takes a marker & wanders by herself around the room - she writes her questions, reactions, agreements etc. directly onto the sheets or on the blanks posted next to them

  • Groups reassemble at their postings to see what others have written


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STRUCTURED SILENCE

  • Every 15 minutes students write individually on 3x5 cards ONE of the following - most important point, most puzzling point, question they’d most like to discuss, something new they’ve learned - in the discussion so far.

  • Cards shuffled & responses read out by different students


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Rotating Stations

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


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Speech policy

  • Silence is allowed and will not be interpreted as mental disengagement, lack of intelligence or lack of commitment

  • Speech will not be interpreted as a sign of intelligence, extreme engagement or superlative diligence

    (This helps take the performance anxiety off students’shoulders)


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Mutual Invitation(Eric Law - The Wolf Shall dwell with the Lamb)

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


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Critical Conversation Protocol

  • Storyteller tells the tale - no interruptions

  • Detectives ask questions about story

  • Detectives report out assumptions they hear

  • Detectives offer alternative interpretations

  • Participants do an experiential audit (what have we learned, would do differently etc.)

    Umpire enforces ground rules throughout


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Critical Incident Questionnaire

  • Moment most engaged as a learner

  • Moment most distanced as a learner

  • Most affirming/helpful action

  • Most puzzling/confusing action

  • What surprised you most

    These are anonymously completed - the instructor reads these & reports main findings at start of next class with time for discussion (if needed)


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Learning Audit

  • As a result of today’s discussion …

    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?


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Former resisters testified to its utility

Faculty modeled their own participation

My silence was not misconstrued

Open - not a guessing game of ‘what the teacher thinks’

Group developed & observed ground rules

Participation was assessed by multiple indicators

What Would it Take?


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Critical Debate

  • Motion is framed & participants volunteer to work on teams to draft arguments that either support or oppose the motion

  • Facilitator switches teams!

  • Teams conduct debate w/rebuttal time

  • Debrief the debate - assumptions that were confirmed & challenged, new viewpoints, overlooked evidence


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Discussion Inventory

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


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GRADING FOR PARTICIPATION: BEHAVIORAL INDICATORS

  • Ask a question of a peer that draws out their thinking

  • Bring in a resource not covered in the syllabus that adds new info. or ideas

  • Make a comment that underscores the link between 2 people’s comments

  • Use body language to show interest in a person’s contribution


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PARTICIPATION (II)

  • Post an online comment that summarizes our discussion or suggests a new direction

  • Make a comment (online is ok) about how you found another’s comments useful or interesting. Be as specific as possible.

  • Contribute something that builds on what another has said - be explicit about how you are doing this


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PARTICIPATION (III)

  • Make a comment on the CIQ or online that helps us examine discussion dynamics

  • Ask a cause and effect question

  • Express appreciation for how the discussion has helped you understand something better (online is OK). Be specific about exactly what was helpful.

  • Summarize several people’s comments


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NOMINATING QUESTIONS

  • Small groups come up with 1-2 questions they want to discuss further

  • Groups post questions on posters or black/white board

  • Students individually put a check against 2 questions they would like to discuss more

  • Whole class discussion is structured around questions with most votes


Bibliography l.jpg

Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools & Techniques for Democratic Classrooms

Brookfield & Preskill (2006)

Education, Democracy & Discussion

Bridges (1988)

Active Talk: The Effective Use of Discussion in Learning Van Ments (1990)

Discussion-Based Online Teaching to Enhance Student Learning

Bender (2003)

BIBLIOGRAPHY