Keeping Discussions Going

1. Clarify or paraphrase a student’s meaning: “If I understand correctly, you’re saying that...”

2. Check understanding: “Are you saying that...?” or “Say that again, but this time use different words.”

3. Complement a contribution: “Interesting point...”

4. Elaborate on a comment with a further point, perspective, or example: “I understand your point. Here’s another one to consider...”

5. Bring in quieter students: “Let’s hear from some one who hasn’t had a chance to speak yet.”

6. Disagree gently: “I can see where you’re coming from, but I’m not sure that’s always the case. Has anyone had a different experience?”

7. Mediate differences in opinion: “I think each of you is exposing a side of the issue.”

8. Redirect student questions to the class: “Great question. What do the others think?”

9. Show the relationships between observations: “Both [Dominique] and [Andre] provide examples of...” “That idea relates to...”

10. Redirect comments that may be off-topic: “Hold onto that idea. I’ll address it later in the session.” Or “I won’t be addressing that idea today, but it’s important. Hold onto it for now and see me after class if you want to talk it through.”

HINT: Use students’ names in examples to re-focus those who appear distracted.

Think along with the class.

Be prepared to say things like, “I need a moment to think that through,” or “That’s an interesting thought, I’d like each of you to take a couple of minutes to think of what you might say to that if I called on you.” This is perfect time to use Think Pair Share.

Periodically summarize the main points.

Students need help seeing what the discussion has |and has not accomplished. Periodically summarize what seems to have been settled in the discussion, what issues have yet to be resolved and what new questions have been raised. To summarize or synthesize major views or findings: “We can see several major ideas have emerged from this discussion...”

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