Strategies for encouraging students to be prepared.
Require each student to bring in a “good” discussion question covering the material of the day.
Require each student to complete and bring in a “ticket in” work sheet on a reading(s) for the day.
Require each student to take a turn as class discussion leader (must “train” them).
Have students answer the following two questions while reading and bring those answers to class: What was the most difficult part/concept/idea in the reading? What did you like the best/most exciting idea?
Allow students to generate exam possible exam questions from the readings. Be willing to actually edit and use some of these on the exam.
Help students form study pairs or groups. Students can read together, quiz each other on readings and so on.
Strategies for promoting discussion in class
Set the norms for discussion the first week of class; get them talking right away!
Conduct think-pair-shares on specific issues/questions/readings.
Use small group assignments (summarize a reading, respond to question on a reading, compare two readings) have a group scribe or reporter from each group share with whole class.
Divide class into teams for informal “debates” (teams prepare outside of class or one class period prior to the debate).
Use concentric circles to stimulate discussion (divide students into two groups, put into two circles facing each other, have each pair of students share thoughts on a question for 3 minutes or so, have inner group rotate, new pair shares, etc…).
Give students a complex question to consider. Have each write on this question for 5-15 minutes. Then discuss in small groups or with the whole class.
Divide the material among students or groups of students. Require each group to teach their peers the material they have studied.
John Parry, Centre for Teaching and Learning