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Planning for Discourse

16 Mar

Over the past few months I’ve been keeping a running list of classroom structures/activities/strategies that facilitate student-to-student discourse and student-to-teacher discourse.  It seems like a good time to post the list, so here it is in no particular order!

  • Wait Time I and II
  • 10-2
  • Peer review/edit/critique
  • Plus/Deltas
  • Drivers and Restrainers for why we’re able to prove our hypothesis
  • Charting progress
  • Think-Pair-Share
  • Critical Challenges
  • Higher Order Thinking Questions
  • See-Think-Wonder
  • Modeling Thinking Aloud
  • Shared Inquiry
  • Literature Circles
  • 3-Step Interview
  • A-B Discussion
  • Paired Verbal Fluency
  • Speed Dating
  • Teammates Consult
  • Labs
  • Discussion
  • Jigsaw
  • Experts and Scribes (Write What I Say)
  • 6 Thinking Hats
  • Gallery Walk
  • Inside-Outside Circle
  • 4 Corners
  • Consensogram
  • U-Shaped Discussion
  • Ranking Ladder
  • Socratic Seminar
  • Checking for Understanding
  • Evaluate peers’ Explanation
  • Activotes
  • Talking Chips
  • Placemat
  • Students Evaluating Lesson Material
  • Document Analysis
  • Discussing Inferences

Discourse Cards

25 Feb

1. Create a notecard for each of the following:

  • Agree/Disagree Share whether you agree or disagree with a comment or explanation.  Be sure to explain your agreement or disagreement.
  • Restate Repeat what was just said in your own words. (Not directions!)
  • Check/Repeat Clarify in your own words what the teacher or a classmate says.  “So you’re saying…”
  • Further Participation Add a comment to the class discussion.  (This may also be an explanation of a concept.)
  • Questions Ask a classmate a question or for clarification.

2. After explaining each card, pass the cards out randomly to students prior to a discussion.  Tell them that they are expected to participate in the discussion according to the directions on their card.

3. After students participate, either collect thier card, or have them randomly pass it to a classmate, and continue the discussion.

Created by Rebecca Green, 7th grade math teacher at William H. Farquhar MS, and is an adaptation of the 5 Talk Moves from Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn. Chapin, O’Connor, and Anderson.

Speed Dating

6 Jan

1.Arrange the desks in your classroom so that there are two concentric circles (one inside the other), with the inside and outside desks facing each other. 

2. Randomly assign seats.  Tell students that the inside circle never moves.  The outside circle will always move one desk to the right. 

3. Assign students a discussion prompt. Provide 2 minutes of individual think time, then 4 minutes for pairs to discuss.  After 4 minutes, have the outside circle rotate.  Provide another 4 minutes for discussion.  Continue for 3-6 rotations. 

Single Question Version– Provide a single challenging question for students to discuss.

Multiple Questions Version– Provide multiple questions for discussion.  During the first round, each pair discusses a different question.  As students rotate they engage in a jigsaw where they share answers for their original questions, record their new partners’ answers, and discuss further.

4 Corners

3 Jan

1. Teacher announces three or more corners.

2. Students think about, then write down their corner selection.

3. Students move to their corners.

4. Teacher provides interaction question.

5. Pairs are formed within the corner.

6. Pairs share using Timed Pair Share

7. Teacher calls on student from each corner to share reasons or ideas with the class.

Whole-class seated variation: Using activotes have students vote on their selection.  Pair up students and have them discuss  their choices and try to convince each other to change. Revote on a new flipchart page.  Compare the two results and engage students in discussing the differences.  Students are encouraged to change their position on the continuum as the discussion continues.

Consensogram variation: Teacher announces two ends of a continuum.  Once students move to their position, they discuss with the people nearest them.

U-Shaped Discussion variation: Same as the consensogram except once students are in place, the line folds.  Teacher facilitates the discussion so that students from opposite sides of the continuum talk to each other/take turns talking.  Students are encouraged to change their position on the continuum as the discussion continues.

Adapted from Cooperative Learning by Spencer Kagan


23 Dec

1. Provide students with a provocative/ambiguous artifact.  (work of art, political cartoon, graphic)

2. Engage students in a discussion using the three prompts:

  • What do I see?
  • What do I think about that?
  • What does it make me wonder about?

3. Consider private think time before the discussion, using partners before whole group discussion, etc.

from Harvard’s Project Zero