What do we mean by saying 'Discussion'?
What is frustrating for me is when students' time and energy are not utilized productively. I will highly encourage teachers to videotape your own lesson and calculate how much time each student gets to speak. Long and Porter estimated that in an EFL (English as Foreign Language) setting, an average language class of 30 students in a public secondary school, students have a chance to talk about 30 seconds per lesson or just one hour per student per year. This piece of information is shocking and concerning. English is the main language of instruction and the second or third language for many of our students in the international school setting. If they are not given enough opportunity to speak and articulate their thoughts, how do we expect them to express ideas and opinions fluently and proficiently? Most importantly, if students are not provided opportunities to practice critical and creative thinking skills, how do we expect them to become critical and creative thinkers? One does not learn how to ride a bicycle or juggle without practice, isn't it?
Use protocols to facilitate discussions
I like to use protocols to facilitate discussions. A protocol consists of a set of step-by-step procedures to be followed for a specific purpose in a classroom. It communicates to students what they are expected to do (norms for participation) and how they will do it (organized steps and timeframes). It is used to invite every student to participate in the learning process and scaffold their thinking process. It is helpful to use protocols in the phase of structured inquiry or guided inquiry to support individual reflections and group discussions. Most importantly, it helps establish the norms of collaboration in the inquiry learning process. Protocols are not used as traditional teaching instructions. Teachers should clearly understand the WHY of using the protocol and carefully craft questions to invite students thinking and wondering.
Comprehensible output through discussion by design
- “The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies.” Cult of Pedagogy, 26 July 2019, www.cultofpedagogy.com/speaking-listening-techniques/.
- “Classroom Discussions.” Classroom Discussions | University of Maryland - Teaching and Learning Transformation Center, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, tltc.umd.edu/classroom-discussions.
- “Discussion Protocols.” Harvard Teaching and Learning Lab, www.gse.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/Protocols_Handout.pdf.
- Long, Michael H., and Patricia A. Porter. “Group Work, Interlanguage Talk, and Second Language Acquisition.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 4 Jan. 2012, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.2307/3586827/abstract.