Discussion toolkit

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  • 1. Discussion ToolkitMade by Mike Gershon – mikegershon@hotmail.com
  • 2. Why talk?An empty workbook, or lack of ‘product’ from a lesson, is oftendeemed a failure. This belief, supported as it is by much of thereporting and inspection process used to assess schools, can lead tothe assumption that work or learning done in lessons should betangible. There should be something to show. Much research andpersonal experience suggests that understanding does not stem solely– or necessarily most effectively – from writing or creating something.Therefore the assumption that learning, deep learning, must always beevidenced by a physical product is false.Lev Vygotsky, the Russian psychologist, wrote that speaking andthinking were intimately linked. The process of speaking helps us tolearn by articulating our thoughts and developing the concepts we useto understand the world. Communication and understanding improvewith practice. Therefore, the opportunity to talk is vital in order todevelop understanding.Of course talk in itself is not simply enough – the talk must befocussed on what is desired to be developed. Just as an unfocussedpiece of writing will lead to unfocussed results, so it is true ofdiscussion and debate. The activities described in this toolkit are allintended to help facilitate and scaffold talk so that it is purposeful,structured (or deliberately unstructured) and appropriate to thestudents and setting. If nothing else, encouraging and valuing talksends out a message that communication is important – both listeningand speaking – and that it is a good end of itself.
  • 3. Different Types of TalkMercer (1995) identified threedifferent types of talk:• Disputational (claim and then counterclaim)• Cumulative (repeat, confirm, elaborate)• Exploratory (critical and constructive)The last two tend to be most common in PSHE, asstudents are encouraged to explore emotions, values,identities and other such personal positions.Disputational talk may have a place from time to time,however its argumentative style is unlikely to create asafe and comfortable environment. It may also makestudents feel reluctant to talk for fear of their personalpositions being attacked.Cumulative talk is excellent for creating an accepting,safe atmosphere. Here, “speakers build on each other’scontributions, add information of their own and in amutually supportive, uncritical way construct together abody of shared knowledge and understanding.” (Mercer,Words and Minds, 2000)
  • 4. Activities for discussionand debateBelow are a variety of activities which can be used tofacilitate discussion and debate. Either scrollthrough, or start the slide show and click on the links.Circle Time Philosophy for ChildrenRainbow Groups SnowballingPair Talk Listening TriadEnvoys JigsawingValue Continuum Hot SeatingDistancing Goldfish BowlFreeze Frame Six Thinking HatsFree Discussion Radio Phone-InTV Chat Show Circle of VoicesPost-It Dialogues Rotating StationsThink-Pair-Share 3-Step Interview
  • 5. Circle TimePurpose:Sharing ideas, experiences, feelings. Furthering understanding of self and others.Articulating group issues.Set Up:Everyone sits in a circle either on chairs or on the floor. There is an item (such asa bean bag or ball) that is held by whoever is speaking.How it works:The teacher sits on the same type of chair or cushion as everyone else. This helpsto signal that what is happening is a special kind of classroom activity in whichthe teacher is a facilitator rather than a director. The teacher has a specialresponsibility to make sure that structured rules of the Circle Time are kept, thateveryones emotions are protected and that suitable activities are prepared. Theteacher must also be ready to draw a session to a close if students arepersistently breaking the rules.The most important thing about the rules for circle time is that they should bediscussed and agreed by all members. This is one of the first activities thatshould take place. Three basic rules which should be discussed are:•Only one person should speak at once - the talking object helps this rule•You can "pass" if you don’t want to speak about something•No put downsFind Out More: http://www.circle-time.co.uk/site/homeReturn to co
  • 6. Philosophy for ChildrenFind Out More: http://www.sapere.org.uk/Purpose:P4C aims to encourage children (or adults) to think critically, caringly, creatively andcollaboratively. It helps teachers to build a community of enquiry whereparticipants create and enquire into their own questions, and learn how to learn inthe process. (Will Ord - http://www.thinkingeducation.co.uk/p4c.htm)Set Up:Arrange the chairs in a circle and (if you feel it is required) have an item (such as abean bag or ball) that is used to denote who is speaking. Place stimulus materialaround the room for students to view.How it works:Introduce the topic and explain the process. Students begin by having a few minutesto look at some of the stimulus material. On returning to the circle they are given 1-2 minutes to think of questions related to the topic/stimulus they would likeanswered. These are shared and a vote is taken on which question to discuss.Teacher acts as facilitator – reframing questions as required, posing developmentquestions or mediating the group to ensure all can participate.Return to co
  • 7. Rainbow GroupsFind Out More: http://www.brainboxx.co.uk/a3_aspects/pages/TALKrainbow.htmPurpose:Encourages every child to listen (to their home group) and talk (to their colourgroup)Set Up:Standard group work set up with space to move and discuss.How it works:Place students in groups with a topic (the same for all, or different topics) todiscuss (this is their ‘home’ group). After discussion students are given a colourand regroup accordingly. The new groups should have a member from each ofthe ‘home’ groups. The students then take it in turns to report back what theirgroups discussed. This can then lead into further discussion.Return to co
  • 8. SnowballingPurpose:Encourages use of negotiation, empathy and reasoningSet Up:Standard classroom for group workHow it works:First, students have to individually produce an answer. They then share it witha partner and turn their two answers into one agreed upon answer. The pairthen joins up with another pair and repeats the process. This way, fouranswers are synthesised into one.e.g. First student chooses three things for an ideal life.Pair then discuss and synthesise their 6 down to three.The four does the same again.Return to co
  • 9. Pair TalkFind Out More:http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/language-assistant/primary-tips/working-pairs-groupsPurpose:To allow articulation of ideas, active listening and focussed discussion. Usingpairs means all students have more opportunity to speak and assists those lessconfident in larger groups.Set Up:Best to have a little distance between pairs to reinforce the purpose anddiscourage moving into conversation with others.How it works:Use a stimulus, specific question or topic area for students to talk around. Modelactive listening and responding. Label as A and B to maintain on topic if not doingso (i.e. A is now listening and B talking then swap). Ask students to come up withquestions they want answered individually which they then discuss in pairs. Set atarget for pairs to achieve – i.e. produce an answer to thisReturn to co
  • 10. Listening TriadFind Out Morehttp://www.ltscotland.org.uk/glossary/l/listeningtriads.asp?strReferringChannel=learningaboutlearningPurpose:Structured means of eliciting information, developing concepts and understandingand processing what is said. Also promotes self-awareness through role of observer.Set Up:Students in threes, two sat facing, one slightly offset – not engaged but observing.How it works:Pupils work in groups of three. Each pupil takes on the role of talker, questioner,recorder. The talker explains something, or comments on an issue, or expresses anopinion. The questioner prompts and seeks clarification The recorder makes notesand gives a report at the end of the conversation. Next time, roles are changed.(from http://www.at-bristol.co.uk/cz/teachers/Debate%20formats.doc)Return to co
  • 11. EnvoysFind Out Morehttp://schools.norfolk.gov.uk/index.cfm?s=1&m=1146&p=412,page&id=263Purpose:Active listening, public speaking and clarity of exposition, sharing and creatinginterdependence.Set Up:Pods around the room of groups 3-4How it works:Once groups have carried out a task, one person from each group is selected asan ‘envoy’ and moves to a new group to explain and summarise, and to find outwhat the new group thought, decided or achieved. The envoy then returns to theoriginal group and feeds back. This is an effective way of avoiding tedious andrepetitive ‘reporting back’ sessions. It also puts a ‘press’ on the envoy’s use oflanguage and creates groups of active listeners. (fromhttp://www.at-bristol.co.uk/cz/teachers/Debate%20formats.doc)Return to co
  • 12. Purpose:Structured way of dealing with a series of questions and promoting team work.Set Up:Pods around the room of groups 3-4How it works:The advantage of a ‘jigsaw’ is that it offers a structure for group work, and promotes a range ofspeaking and listening.• The teacher divides the whole class into small groups (commonly four pupils per group).These are teacher-initiated in order to make each group reflect the balance of the wholeclass – gender, ability, attitude.• Each Home Group is given a common task. Handouts are employed in order to set thetask. Reading material is kept to a manageable length and complexity. If the homegroups are of four, then there are four questions or tasks within the main task – one foreach member of the group. Questions or tasks are allocated within each group, throughnegotiation between the pupils.• All the pupils who have selected a particular question or task regroup into Expert groupsand work together on what is now a common problem and outcome. By the time thisstage of the session is completed, each has become an expert on this matter, throughdiscussion and collaboration with the other ‘experts’.• Original groups reform. Dissemination begins. The home groups are set a final task. Thiscould be a group outcome, or an individual task. The crucial element is to ensure thatpupils have to draw on the combined ‘wisdom’ of the home group in order to completeit successfully. (fromhttp://www.at-ristol.co.uk/cz/teachers/Debate%20formats.doc)JigsawingFind Out More: http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/cooperative/jigsaw.htmlReturn to co
  • 13. Value ContinuumFind Out Morehttp://www.english-teaching.co.uk/learninglearning/valuecontinuumpg.pdfPurpose:To express opinions, show values, discuss differences of opinion, engage inpublic discussion.Set Up:Use a piece of rope or string for the continuum; have arrows pointing on theboard; place the two extremes of opinion on opposite walls.How it works:In this format students or groups of students have to respond to a thoughtprovoking statement by saying to what degree they agree with it. There are anumber of ways this can to used: the students could be asked to come and standat the point on a line that represents their individual opinion, alternatively, firstthey could be asked to discuss a statement in groups and then for one of thegroup to come up to the front and place their groups card/token somewherealong the line, explaining the position their group have taken as they do so. Thisis an excellent format for comparing responses to different questions and findingout contradictions in their thinking (fromhttp://www.at-ristol.co.uk/cz/teachers/Debate%20formats.doc)Return to co
  • 14. Hot SeatingFind Out Morehttp://www.thinkinghistory.co.uk/ActivityModel/ActModHotSeat.htmlPurpose:Dramatic device to encourage empathy, means of ‘realising’ content, allows forprobing questioning and reasoning of positions.Set Up:One student at front, semi-circle or audience of chairs facing.How it works:One student comes to the front expresses their opinion and responds toquestioning on a topic. Can be done by students to taking on particularviewpoints or personas to make it less personal, or more engaged with thecontent. For example the students may play the role of a specific character ortype of person (i.e. Gordon Brown or a young single mother)Return to co
  • 15. DistancingFind Out Morehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/learning/eyewitness/learning/pdfs/tr_diffe(Lesson 2)Purpose:To deal with sensitive, emotional or controversial issues.Set Up:Nothing specificHow it works:Use narrative, drama, role-play and so on to distance students from sensitive,emotional or controversial topics. For example, rather than asking them todiscuss their feelings on bereavement outright, you may use a narrative from abereaved young person and then ask the students to discuss how that personmay have felt.Return to co
  • 16. Goldfish BowlFind Out More http://www.xpday.org/session_formats/goldfish_bowlPurpose:Gives opportunities for group presentation of ideas, development ofreasoning, analytical questioning, exchange of ideas.Set Up:Chairs at the for group, rest of class sat as audience.How it works:Like hot seating except a whole group comes to the front and expresses theirviews. They are in the goldfish bowls, with other students able to questionthem, push for clarification and so on.Return to co
  • 17. Freeze FrameFind Out More http://www.lgec.org.uk/LagaNews/jun04tool.pdfPurpose:Kinaesthetic approach to aid discussionSet Up:Start in a circle and then break out into pods – move tables so there is room tomanoeuvre.How it works:Students are asked to create a freeze frame of a topic, story or statement. Afreeze frame is a point at which the ‘camera’ has stopped – it has a before andafter that are not seen by the audience (hence it is different from a still image).Groups then show their freeze frame to the rest of the class who guess what it isand then go on to discuss around it.Return to co
  • 18. Six Thinking HatsFind OutMorehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Thinking_HatsPurpose:To breakdown different parts of thinking in order to discuss more effectively andbe more aware of the influences on your own thought.Set Up: Nothing specificHow it works:There are six hats, each representing a different element of thinking. Studentsare given a hat (real or imaginary) and asked to think through the discussionusing that hat. The idea is to thus create a map covering all the differentelements of an issue or idea. The class could be divided into different hats andthe teacher manage the discussion.Return to contents
  • 19. Free DiscussionPurpose:Encourage responsibility, student-led, avoids teacher focus or retreading of tiredpoints.Set Up:Groups or whole class, circle, pods or table and chairsHow it works:This can be done with smaller groups or the whole class. As it is not structuredthis sort of discussion may require some more facilitation. This can be theteacher or session leader for the whole group but if there are a number ofgroups staffing may not allow a facilitator for each group. In this case one optionmay be to ask one of the students to act as a facilitator, this is probably atechnique to use once the students have experienced positive models of how afacilitator should act and discussed key aspects of behaviour in this role.(From http://www.at-ristol.co.uk/cz/teachers/Debate%20formats.doc)Return to co
  • 20. Radio Phone-InPurpose:Active listening, shows many sides of a discussionSet Up:Teacher (or student) Is the radio host with four guests (students) and anaudience (rest of class)How it works:There is a topic to discuss, led by the radio host. The four guests receive role-playcards and are asked to take on that character for the discussion. Audience peerassesses, ‘rings-in’ with questions, takes notes with a listening frame and so on.Return to co
  • 21. TV Chat ShowFind out more http://www.tweakit.co.uk/attachments/chatshow.pdfPurpose:Lots of speaking and listening, visual as well as auditory, easy reference point forlots of students (and teachers!).Set Up:Depends what chat show you want to mimicHow it works:Teacher is the host with students as different characters discussing a topic.Audience asks questions, gets involved in the discussion, peer assesses and soon. Could be Newsnight, Opah, Parkinson, Montel –style etc. Panel show, familyfeud, revelations, question time etc.Return tocontents
  • 22. Purpose:Generate ideas, develop listening skills, have all students participate, equalizelearning environmentSet Up:Moveable chairs preferableHow it works:This method involves students taking turns to speak. Students form circles offour or five. Give students a topic, and allow them a few minutes to organizetheir thoughts about it. Then the discussion begins, with each student having upto three minutes (or choose a different length) of uninterrupted time to speak.During this time, no one else is allowed to say anything. After everyone hasspoken once, open the floor within the subgroup for general discussion.Specify that students should only build on what someone else has said, not ontheir own ideas; also, at this point, they should not introduce new ideas(Brookfield & Preskill, 1999)(all fromhttp://cte.uwaterloo.ca/teaching_resources/teaching_tips/Other/gw_types_of_small_gro)Circle of VoicesFind Out More http://stephenbrookfield.com/pdf_files/Discussion_Materials.pdfReturn tocontents
  • 23. Post-It DialoguesPurpose:Public discussion without necessarily having to ‘speak’ publicly, visual a,kinaesthetic and auditory elements, good for having something tangible todiscuss ‘around’Set Up:Post-it notes for each student, space to move aroundHow it works:Lots of different ways – could have a few sheets of sugar paper with statementsor questions on and students read them and post comments; groups of 3/4/5have to answer question on post its, or produce comments, which they thenshare, discuss and present; could use ‘role on the wall’ and students expressopinions/emotions on post-its.Return tocontents
  • 24. Rotating StationsPurpose:Build on others’ ideas, cover a topic or question holistically, active and paceySet Up:Series of stations around the room with stimulus, sugar paper and pens (or giveeach group a different coloured pen to take around – therefore keep track ofwho’s contributed what)How it works:Locate each small group at a station where they are given 10 minutes to discussa provocative issue and record their ideas on newsprint or a chalkboard. Whenthis time is up the groups move to new stations in the classroom where theycontinue their discussion, based on the ideas they encounter from the previousgroup. Rotations continue every 10 minutes until each group has been at all ofthe positions and has had a chance to consider all of the other groups comments(from http://drscavanaugh.org/discussion/inclass/discussion_formats.htm)Return tocontents
  • 25. Think-Pair-ShareFind out more http://www.eazhull.org.uk/nlc/think,_pair,_share.htmPurpose:Structured way of developing ideas and thoughtsSet Up:Nothing specificHow it works:See belowReturn tocontents
  • 26. Three Step InterviewFind Out More http://its.guilford.k12.nc.us/act/strategies/three_step_interview.htmPurpose:Structured way of developing ideas and thoughtsSet Up:Pods of fourHow it works:Divide four-member groups into two pairs: A and B, C and D. In step 1, Ainterviews B while C interviews D. In step 2, reverse roles: B interviews A while Dinterviews C. In step 3, share-around: each person shares information abouthis/her partners in the group of 4.(From http://drscavanaugh.org/discussion/inclass/discussion_formats.htm )Return tocontents