This Just In: Kids Like to Talk!
Class discussion day was among the favorites of my students. Maybe it was because they were just tired of hearing me talk, or maybe it was because of an activity they truly enjoyed. But probably, because kids just like to talk.
As a teacher, I struggled to find ways to help each student participate equally, both in terms of frequency and quality. Ultimately I created something called Scored Socratic Discussion, which is this:
A student begins a class discussion with a high-level question or a quotation from the material under consideration and a reaction to that quotation or document. The student who submits the question then also performs the role of moderator, calling on students to speak while also keeping track of who has spoken and who hasn’t. This frees the teacher to score the discussion. When a student wishes to respond, he/she raises a hand and waits to be called on by the discussion moderator. If a student does not wait to be called on by the moderator, no credit is given for any comments. Students who have not spoken will take precedence over those who have already commented. And when about 10 minutes remain in the discussion time, the moderator will stop the discussion and allow anyone who has not spoken to make a brief statement. The scoring rubric was as follows:
Beginning score 70 (based on evidence of preparation- notes, highlighted articles, etc.) Additional points, to a maximum of 100, are awarded for:
- making a relevant comment (5)
- making a comment supported with evidence from text (informational text or document) (10)
- making an appropriate analogy (10)
- making an appropriate comparison (10)
- agree/disagree with previous comment using data or new information (10)
- asking a challenging new question (5)
Even in such a relatively controlled environment, we would have students who did not get a chance to speak (blame class sizes). In that event, I allowed students to submit responses in the evening via email. Using that format I rarely had response rates less that 100%.
- Evidence-Based Selected Response (EBSR)—Combines a traditional selected-response question with a second selected-response question that asks students to show evidence from the text that supports the answer they provided to the first question.
- Range of Prose Constructed Responses (PCR)—Elicits evidence that students have understood a text or texts they have read and can communicate that understanding well both in terms of written expression and knowledge of language and conventions.
There are many other forms of student discussions - panels, debates, speeches, chat rooms, just to name a few. And speaking of debates, enjoy this mock debate (above video) created recently here at Compass Learning!
Have ideas to share about student discussions? Please share!
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