Leading a group discussion

Leading a group discussion 

“Quality discussions depend on knowledgeable student interaction.”

The Girl Guide/Scout motto, “Be Prepared” is also the motto for facilitating quality group

  1. Sufficient Prior Knowledge – Do students have the prior knowledge they need to make meaningful contributions to the discussion? If not, how can you help build/activate it?
  2. Appropriate Topic – Will the topic have enough breadth and depth to generate critical discussion?
  3. Discussion Guidelines – One speaker at a time? What if someone is dominating the conversation? What if someone isn’t speaking at all? How will off-topic questions be redirected?
  4. Guiding Discussions with Questioning – What types of questions will you ask? Stanford Teaching Commons has some helpful ideas on that.
  5. Culminating or Summarizing – How will the discussion wrap up? How will you and the students highlight important ideas and themes?

These 5 keys are from The Key Elements of Classroom Management and you can check out the link for more details. Quick Tip: before the discussion starts, write the topic and opening question on the board. Ask all students to write down one additional question and one piece of information about that topic. Then they can use them in the discussion. Activate that prior knowledge!

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