Facilitating a Silent Discussion - Presto Plans

presto

plans

menu

Welcome to the

PRESTO PLANS BLOG

10 days of english teacher giveaways

sent straight to your inbox!

YES, SEND THEM TO ME!

Facilitating a Silent Discussion

I truly believe that the best resources that teachers have in their school are their coworkers.  Middle and high school teachers are more likely to close their classroom doors and “do their own thing”.  This school year, the grade 9 and 10 English Language Arts team at my school vowed to open up our doors to share more resources and ideas, and WOW did it make a difference!

 

One of the teachers in my school introduced me to a new way to facilitate conversation in the classroom – using silent discussions.  Okay, I know what you’re thinking – this oxymoron makes no sense, but stay with me for a few minutes because this activity made for the best classroom discussion I have ever had.  Read below to learn how it works

 

1. Develop Discussion Questions

I was starting a class novel The Giver by Lois Lowry, so we used discussion topics that were relevant to the themes that would develop in the novel. For example, some of the questions included were
Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 2.29.41 PM
1.  Do you think a world without pain would be a utopia?
2.  Would you like to live in a world of “sameness”?  Why or why not?
 Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 2.29.41 PM
I had a class of 25, and we used 11 different discussion questions and that number seemed to work quite well.
Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 2.29.41 PM
It is also worth mentioning that you don’t necessarily even have to use questions related to something you are studying.   I have also done a general silent discussion using a packet of ethical prompts I developed.  The questions put students in ethical dilemmas and have them explain what they would do in each situation.  They absolutely LOVE these prompts.

What Would You Do Classroom Discussion Prompts2. Number Students Off

If you have 11 different discussion questions, for example, go around the classroom and assign each student a number from 1 – 11 (then repeat – it is okay if more than one student gets the same number).
 

3. Students Write Their First Question

Project or write the discussion questions on the board and number them.  Each student takes out a piece of paper (or use this free template) and writes the down the question associated with the number you assigned them.
silent discussionsScreen Shot 2016-06-14 at 2.29.41 PM

4. Let the Silent Discussion Begin!

Students begin by writing a response to the question they were first assigned.  When they are done, they get up and circulate the room (silently) waiting for someone else to be done.  They sit down at their new seat, read their new question and what the person had written before them, and write their own response!  Their response could be to the original question or to something that another student has written before them.  Tell students if they arrive at a question they have already answered to choose another place. Some teachers choose to also give students a minimum number of responses they have to make, but I had some struggling writers, so I just let them move about at their own pace.
 Also, keep in mind that sometimes (especially early on), students may have to stand and wait a couple minutes to find a new place to sit!  I spent about 30 minutes doing this, but you could do it for a longer or shorter period depending on your class’ stamina.  

 

5. Open Discussion

 

Let students return to their seats and read their original discussion topic.  Then, as a class, go through each of the questions one at a time and have an open discussion.  Encourage students to reference what others have said from the sheet in front of them.
Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 1.11.44 PM

The Benefits of a Silent Discussion

1. When you do the open discussion at the end, students are far more inclined to speak as they have had a chance to process the information, read the thoughts of their peers, and formulate their own opinions.

2. Not all students will have completed the same questions, so you are likely to get different students participating for different questions.

3.  It makes for 30 minutes of almost complete silence, which can be nice for a teacher headache.

4. If it is related to something you are studying, you can return to the discussion questions at the end to see if their opinions have changed.

share this post

INSTAGRAM

Let's connect on

@prestoplans

© PRESTO PLANS        |         ALL RIGHTS RESERVED        |         

PRIVACY POLICY

CONTACT

TERMS

|

|

sent right to your inbox!

10 days of ENGLISH Teacher GIVEAWAYS 

*please note that signing up may reduce lesson planning time. 

10 DAYS OF ELA TEACHER GIVEAWAYS

connect with me
Presto
PLANS

10 DAYS OF ENGLISH

*please note that signing up may reduce lesson planning time.

TEACHER GIVEAWAYS

10 days of eLA giveaways 

sent straight to your inbox!