Student Led Discussions- Effective Classroom Participation

I love classrooms filled with student discussions and interactions.  Read below and tell me if this is what you typically see.

The teacher asks students the questions and the students respond.  Yes?

Or is it this way in your school.

The students direct the discussion and the teacher observes.  Yes?

More often in our classrooms we see the teacher leading the discussion and the students responding.  Let me share how we can flip that and have the students leading the discussion.


How does it look:

  • Teams of students (5-8) form discussion groups.  
  • The atmosphere in the classroom is safe.  No fear to express themselves.
  • Students give their own personal insight into the topic.
  • The teacher mentors the students by giving feedback.
  • It is student centered!
  • Students respond to each other instead of responding to just the teacher.  
  • Students are thinking.
I totally agree with the statement above- Lecturing produces the lowest level of student learning.  
I will also add this to it- technology added to your lecture does not change it from a lecture.  

This is a great video that shares Strategies for Student Centered Discussion:


If you have been following me for awhile, I love to read blogs.  I rather read blogs than the newspaper or social media.  I love learning.  One blog I enjoy reading is written by Jennifer Gonzalez.  She is the author of Cult of Pedagogy.

Jennifer shares many classroom discussion strategies on the blog.  She also shares how she helps teachers rewrite their lesson plans to be more student centered.  The best thing ever is that she doesn't just list and explain each strategy.  She also gives a video demo of each.  I'm a visual learner and this works well for me.


Things to think about or plan for when using these strategies:
  1. Classroom culture- create a classroom free of fear to express themselves.
  2. Classroom management and arrangement- Is the classroom arranged to facilitate group discussions?  Is the teacher comfortable moving from less teacher centered to more student centered?
  3. Model this strategy for students so they can understand their role and become comfortable in the classroom discussion.
  4. Principals and instructional coaches should support the teacher as they transition to more student-centered discussions.  Provide feedback and training in order to be successful.  
What another resource to get you started?  



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