- 1). Set ground rules and make sure everyone sticks to them. Your students need to feel comfortable and able to share their ideas without ridicule from other students in group discussion. Include rules that ensure one person speaks at a time, everyone listens without interrupting and everyone is treated with respect. Have students share their own ideas for rules; it is more likely that they will stick to rules they have chosen themselves.
- 2). Think carefully about seating. Arrange desks in groups of four to six rather than having everyone sitting in rows facing the front. Make sure everyone can see each other for easier communication. Consider carefully who sits where. Ensure the quiet student isn't sitting next to an overly confident student who will dominate the discussion. Rearrange seating now and then, allowing different students to work together; enabling varied discussions and giving more scope for collaborative learning. If having a whole class discussion, put chairs in a circle or have children sit in a circle on the floor so everyone can see each other.
- 3). Warm up. Discussing ideas is a new experience for lots of students. Try a few warm up activities to break the ice and increase confidence. Place an object under each chair and have students tell each other what the object made them think about. Play a piece of music and have students discuss their responses. Pass on a compliment: each student says one thing they admire about the person sitting next to them.
Students can discuss ideas for experiments in science.Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
Include discussion in as many lessons as possible. Discuss responses to stories. Brainstorm writing ideas. Express opinions about people and events in history. Discuss strategies to solve problems in math. Talk through ideas for experiments in science. Use circle time to discuss moral and spiritual ideas, and to work together to solve any classroom and relationship issues. Collaborate on setting class rules and setting individual and class goals for each semester. Incorporate group discussion across the curriculum and enable students to learn from each other as well as from the teacher.
Listen to your students' ideas.BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images
Be a role model for your students. Show them that you are willing to take part in discussions and share your own ideas and opinions. Treat your students with respect, listen to and value their contributions. Listen without interrupting and show real interest in what they have to say; lead by example and your students should act in the same way. Make your classroom a place in which students learn from each other, develop their communication skills and are confident to take risks in order to develop intellectually, socially and emotionally.