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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Organic discussion: Getting your students to lead the lecture

If your voice is gone after a day of teaching, you're talking too much. Our students are vivacious and lively-why not let them lead the discussion? Students who speak up in class are
1. More likely to retain knowledge
2. Spark conversation and ideas in others
3. Learn how to interact with others
4. Build social skills

So how exactly do you spark an organic student discussion?
Try a Socratic Circle! Here's our old buddy Socrates himself to introduce us:



The Question: A Socratic Seminar opens with a question (posed by the leader). An opening question shouldn't have an obvious right answer-we want discussion! A good opening question helps participants think back to a text as they speculate, evaluate, define, and clarify all the issues involved. Move the group forward by asking more questions-playing devil's advocate.

The Leader: The leader plays a dual role as leader and participant-keeping the discussion focused on the text, asking follow-up questions, helping participants clarify their positions when arguments become confused, and involving reluctant participants while restraining their more vocal peers.

The Participants: Participants carry the burden of responsibility for the quality of the seminar. Good seminars occur when participants have studied the texts closely in advance (homework before hand is advised), listen actively, and search for evidence in the text to support their ideas. This will help students with argumentation skills and actively teaches group communication skills-talking AND listening!

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