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Classroom discussions can tell the teacher much about student learning and understanding of basic concepts.  The teacher can initiate the discussion by presenting students with an open-ended question.  The goal is to build knowledge and develop critical and creative thinking skills.  Discussions allow students to increase the breadth and depth of their understanding while discarding erroneous information and expanding and explicating background knowledge (Black and Wiliam 1998; Doherty 2003).   By activating students as learning resources for one another there is the possibility of some of the largest gains seen in any educational intervention (Slavin, Hurley and Chamberlain 2003).  The teacher can assess student understanding by listening to the student responses and by taking anecdotal notes.  To prepare students for the discussion, the teacher could have students complete the Decision Making Chart.


Links on Discussion:

Ten Techniques for Energizing Your Classroom Discussions


The Importance of Classroom Discussion


How to Encourage Classroom Discussion


Classroom Instruction:  The Discussion Technique


Real World Model of Classroom Discussion




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