Friday, February 5, 2016

Creating Discourse-Friendly Classrooms

Some great simple things to create a discourse-friendly classroom from
"Literacy Strategies for Improving Mathematics Instruction" (2005)

  • Arrange desks so that students can easily turn to see each other.
  • Encourage students to direct questions and explanations to the class, rather than the teacher.
  • When recording ideas, use the students' words as much as possible.
  • Try not to repeat or paraphrase everything students say.  This teaches the other students that they can simply listen to you.  Ask the student to repeat louder if need be.
  • Remind students that a conversation has both listening and speaking skills.
  • Stand in a variety of spots in the classroom.
  • Remember, students listen harder when a peer speaks than when an adult does!
  • Give students time to think.
  • Arrange lessons so that students have a product to share as they explain their thinking.  
Even better is if the student takes the lead in the class.  This is done by 
  • Asking open questions to stimulate thinking.  "Is this logical?" "What do you wonder about?"
  • Honor ideas even if they are incorrect.
  • Encourage arguments between students.
  • Confusion is ok!  Make sure students know that you want them to be confused, and that you will let them be this way.
  • Tangents are great teachable moments.
  • When a student brings up an idea ask the rest of the class if they have any questions or ideas.
  • Counter questions with questions not explanations. 
  • Even with a correct answer, ask if there is any another way this can be done, or if there are improvements to be made.
A great reminder!

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