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  • Before the discussion


  • Setting classroom culture


  • Year 5-12


  • 5-10 min


  • nil

Classroom discussions aren’t always as easy as they sound. How do you get students excited about participating in the discussion? How do you make sure there is room for all students to speak up, even the quiet ones? How do you help students learn to present thoughtful arguments, and really listen to each other?

In order to have quality classroom discussions, Chittleborough (2014) suggests that the top three considerations are: positive classroom climate, sufficient time for students to think and discuss, and appropriate scaffolding to help students structure their thoughts and communication.

Over the next ten weeks, we are going to suggest ten different ways to facilitate thoughtful discussion in your classroom.

The first step is to get your classroom culture right. There needs to be a positive and safe classroom environment, where students feel like their contributions are welcome. One way you could do this is by setting a small number of clear classroom norms before you have the first classroom discussion. Don’t forget to follow up and remind students of these norms throughout the discussion and term!

Our top five norms for classroom discussion

  • One person speaks at a time
  • Look at the speaker with body language that shows you’re listening
  • Active listening (restate what they said in your own words to clarify)
  • Let them finish before you share your perspective
  • Gently and quietly remind others if they’re not following norms

What expectations do you set in your classroom? How do you facilitate respectful sharing?

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Chittleborough, G. D. (2004). The Role of Teaching Models and Chemical Representations in Developing Students’ Mental Models of Chemical Phenomena, Curtin University of Technology. Doctor of Philosophy.

Fletcher, J. (2019). “A Framework for Whole-Class Discussions.” COMMUNICATION SKILLS.
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