Classroom Conversation: The Use Of Discussion-Based Strategy In The History Classroom, pp. 7 of 10

Implication for pedagogy and classroom teaching

My experience in using discussion in the history classroom can be summarized as follows: first, any inquiry question can be as thought provoking as the students that are engaged in it; second, it is important to demonstrate dispositions for communication and discussion; and third, students must be given time to think.

Thought-provoking inquiry question

The design of the inquiry must be interesting enough to ignite students’ curiosity, yet the content must also be challenging enough for students to want to take on the inquiry. As shown in Table 1, considerations such as grouping structures and reading materials will affect students’ learning motivation. For example, students with higher ability may take on roles such as the USA and the USSR in the Korean War that would require them to understand the broader context of the Cold War. The motivations behind the two superpowers and the concept of the balance of power may be challenging to some students. Students with lower ability may take on roles representing North and South Korea, where the roles are nationalistic in nature and ones where students may be able to comprehend in a reasonable way. The disadvantage of this combination would be that students with similar abilities may have similar viewpoints and perspectives. Thus, when closing the lesson with a class discussion, the teacher must explicitly invite all groups to share their viewpoints and reconcile, as a class, the different perspectives. The jigsaw strategy can also be deployed to build consensus in students’ home groups before building consensus as a class. This will allow more engagement as every student would have a say either at the home group level or the class level.

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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