Getting kids to participate in small-group discussions

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, Oct 7, 2016.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Oct 7, 2016

    I've been trying to get small group discussions to work. For example: giving kids 2-3 questions to discuss with each other in groups of 3-4. Even the quick "turn to your partner and explain this" strategy doesn't work well for me.

    Kids just sit there. The higher-level students will participate. The others won't say anything to anyone unless I stand right behind them and wait for them to talk.

    How do I get all students participating and talking? If I give them a writing task with it, they don't discuss it and just write down the answers independently.
     
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  3. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Oct 7, 2016

    Have each kid write down what their partner said.
     
  4. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Can you have them each reflect on the question on a piece of paper, or even just a sticky note, briefly first before there's any talking? Then, expecting everyone to share (or having a different person start each time, to ensure all are included)?
     
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  5. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Maybe that's what I'm forgetting. Giving them think and reflection time. Maybe they can write their answers first, discuss, then write their partners answers in a two-column format. I will still have a bunch that haven't written anything during their reflection time and won't say anything during the discussion though. Any ideas on how to reach these kiddos?
     
  6. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    Make it into a graded activity with a rubric or give them participation points.
     
  7. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    How do I assess and give everyone participation points? I've tried to do that, but I haven't found a good way to make it work. There are just too many students and conversations that I can assess like one or two groups, and by the time I get through those, the rest of the groups are quiet because they already finished talking. xP
     
  8. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    Could you do something like a Socratic seminar where half the class is participating and the rest is tallying how much they're participating and/or evaluating the other so they're all involved. The next day you can swap.

    Base their grades on the quality of their response and how much they participate.
     
  9. Bunnie

    Bunnie Devotee

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    Oct 8, 2016

    There are two ways you could try as suggestions.

    For partners you should pair up kids based on who loves to talk and who is quiet. Two students who love to talk will engage with other other because they want to be heard. Two quiet students can only stare at each other for so long before one has to say something. Also they will feel less intimidated because if they are paired with someone who loves to talk they'll never get a chance to say anything or think I don't have to share because they will.

    If you have access to technology as a 1:1 situation. Try Google Classroom. You can post a question and student can type their answers and respond to other students thoughts. It made a world of difference in my class last year because those super quiet students, which honestly was like more than half the class, finally were participating and interacting with their peers academically. It truly worked wonders to put a piece of technology in front of them and allow them to "text" answers with them. Plus as a bonus, you can read it later and not worry about needed to listen to all groups right there and then. And you can grade it if you want and give points.
     
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  10. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Oct 8, 2016

    Increase your wait time. They arents participating because they don't have to. If you tell them you aren't moving on until you hear everyone discuss, and you walk around the room to make sure they do, they will talk.
     
  11. MsAbeja

    MsAbeja Companion

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    Maybe the lower-level kids could benefit from some sentence starters or frames for how to begin their statement. I work primarily with English learners, and many of them will just sit in silence because they don't know how to get started, or they have the ideas but just don't know how to state them in academic language. If you have many lower performing kids, that could be an issue for them as well.
     
  12. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    I run into this too, and my general way of tackling it is increased wait time, making sure that when I give them that time, that I check in with those who usually struggle more or I feel would need more support, and then, as others have said, sometimes having sentence frames for some (or even all). When we're sharing whole-class after I ask them to discuss something in pairs, I use sticks with the idea that everyone is expected to be ready to share - whether it's their own idea, or one that was developed within the discussion.
     
  13. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    For a no-tech approach, get some big sheets of paper. I buy sketch pads at the Dollar Tree, 30 sheets for a buck. Each student in the group gets a different colored skinny marker and writes their name in that color. I give them some guiding questions, and require each member of the group to have some of the answers in their writing and color. At the very least they have to have listened to what the other members of the group have to say in order to write them down. It's how I approach Shakespearean soliloquies.
     
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  14. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Yes, sentence starters are great for any students. A lot of them don't know how to use academic language in the classroom, and it's not only English learners. We spent some time on this in a meeting, and I completely forgot about it. And this is not only in group setting, but even just answering questions. Thank you for reminding me!!!
     
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  15. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Oct 8, 2016

    Think- pair- share
     
  16. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I have this problem too. I've found it helps a lot to do a quickwrite before they turn and talk. Think-pair-share is good, too, except you can't guarantee they're using that think time. If you have them do a quickwrite, then share, they've all got something to say.

    I also like the idea of having them write down what their partners said, although I haven't tried it.
     
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  17. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Give them talking chips and sentence stems.
     
  18. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Must we always bribe with food? ;) (kidding, of course).
     
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  19. BestEssay

    BestEssay Guest

    Oct 11, 2016

    Group discussion is a very effective method and it makes the learning process easier. It is the way to communicate with group members and get more ideas from others.
     

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