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Ideas to develop interactive dialogic classrooms

It may be that your students need to develop their skills so that they participate better in group discussions.

There can be a number of reasons why a class finds group discussion difficult. It may help if you reorganise the class into new groups, thinking carefully about the composition of each group so that shy students have supportive peers to make them feel comfortable, students who tend to dominate conversations are placed with peers who will also put forward their ideas.

To help get these new groups functioning, there are a number of approaches suggested in the 2004 Department for Education and Skills ‘Group Work unit’. These approaches will help train your new groups to function better and this will hopefully lead to better discussion during science activities.

Download the study unit [PDF]. Some example strategies and the skills being developed are provided on pages 15-22 (PDF document pages 17-24).

Classroom Task

Choose one of the approaches from pages 15-16 in the PDF and plan to use it to prompt group discussion. Select an approach that you feel will be challenging for your class, as it is these that are likely to promote discussion and provide you with a better understanding of what students think.

In the comments below, be specific about the approach you have considered, and the context of the group discussion you have planned. If you are able to try this approach in your classroom, reflect on how it went, recording your ideas here or on your reflection grid for this week.

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This article is from the free online course:

Introducing Assessment for Learning

National STEM Learning Centre