Classroom Discussions: 6 Ways To Foster Quality Classroom Conversations

27th January 2023

Classroom discussions are often described as transient instructional events as they pass through the class while enriching students' educational experiences. However, most of these discussions are often forced participation, and students are found battling for ideas. Teachers who have undergone counseling courses for teachers are of how to hard-press communication, but sometimes even the most seasoned teachers feel out of practice.

So, if you find yourself sailing in the same boat where students turn their discussions into arguments and eventually real-life problems, here are six strategies to keep those conversations going.

Ways ToImprove The Quality Of Classroom Discussions

1. Assign Conversation Promoting Roles

When students come together they often don't say much to each other especially when they are new. Thus, a natural tendency of most teachers is to assign roles or tasks to bring them to work together. While these may seem helpful, to bring the quality you might want to reconsider your methods. Be mindful that the roles you establish for the students are designed to promote conversation rather than compliance.

Think less in terms of a group leader and more in terms of a process observer. Consider being a coach where you are reviewing whether your team is discussing and completing the tasks as per the given norms. Overall, you want to stay away from roles that let you divide and conquer rather than promote group learning.

2. Employ Norms To Get Everyone Involved

Consider providing student agreement norms that orient how they engage with one another instead of promoting compliance-based behaviors like being punctual. Some of the norms you can incorporate are:

  • Listen in such a way that you are wrong but speak just as if you are right.
  • Check your story for facts before presenting it in front of the class.
  • Find common grounds by seeking not fixed, flexible, and unbiased stance in your ideas.

3. Assign Tasks To Promote Collaboration

To promote group discussions you need to give them something to talk about. Learners need tasks that require multiple perspectives and are provocative to some degree since they are linked to significant declarative content.

When you are reviewing your upcoming curricula, consider these prompts:

  • What perspectives can you bring out for the students to explore?
  • To what extent is the content socially and politically challenging for the learners?
  • What is the core content knowledge that is required to fully access the topic?
  • How to incorporate ways to help them find the theme of the discussion?

4. Reflect On Quality And Use Protocols

Unless you levy specific systems in the classroom for your students to write, read and speak, they will always all back to their old habits that include copying teacher's notes and surfing the internet.

Discussing and documenting the quality of conversations and then showing those recordings as proof to the students can be essential as it allows the students to understand where they stand and what they need to improve.

5. Prompt Students To Infuse Academic Vocabulary

Students are in the habit of engaging in decisions using their typical colloquial language. Thus, you as teachers need to prompt them to restate academic language by using the vocabulary noted during class discussions, teacher boards, academic journals, etc. However, consider these prompts to be natural and not show any kind of frustration.

Before engaging in conversation establish a 10-minute routine where students read, annotate and engage in the content. Develop a sprinting method where your students do not require reading a lot of content but a short excerpt and thinking about it deeply. If required help students develop questions and statements using academic vocabulary.

6. Give Rich Tasks To Contribute To The Outside World

Leveraging real-life problems or bringing global and local audiences to the classroom in person or virtually can help give a reason for the students to collaborate and learn more content. Prompt students about the contextual problem and relate it to the core content that they are learning.

Here are some of the major prompts that can support learning:

  • Determine to what extent the issue is related to the learning that is happening in the classroom.
  • Where have you seen the problem before?
  • How can you support others to solve this problem?
  • What will be the most effective solution to this problem?

Bind The Whole Class Together

Asking open ended-questions and waiting for any student to raise their hand for the answer is so outdated. Instead, you can put them in groups or pairs to encourage participation. However, if your students still struggle you can follow the above-mentioned strategies to help them participate. If you are grappling to reach your conversational goals then you might want to consider pursuing counseling courses for teachers to grow as an educator and spark some curiosity in the dull minds.

Written By : Sanjana

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