Classroom Conversation: The Use Of Discussion-Based Strategy In The History Classroom, pp. 3 of 10

Scaffolds for discussion

One of the advantages of using a discussion-based strategy is the flexibility the teacher potentially has, for example, in deciding the number of scaffolds to be given to the students, or in setting the level at which the inquiry question may be pitched. Students may also find it interesting and engaging to explore sources and develop alternative narratives by questioning different evidence. This strategy will also allow peer learning and collaboration which will further develop communication skills in students. However, there are also real challenges.

Teachers may question whether effective learning is taking place through discussion as they may not be confident that students have sufficient content knowledge to support their arguments. Also, there may be concerns that students’ discussions may not be adequately deep nor sufficiently broad. Some students may end up stubbornly sticking to their viewpoints, or splitting hairs over minor issues and missing the arguments all together. More importantly, students may feel that while they had fun and are engaged during discussions, they may not be able to apply the head knowledge learnt through discussion into their own learning. Some may also view their peers as non-subject experts and thus would not trust their viewpoints. In the end, if students are not cognizant about the process of classroom discussions, they will not able to appreciate the benefits or value of having engaged discussions in the classrooms.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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