Classroom dialogue can be a powerful tool for student learning in all grade levels and content concentrations, particularly when student ideas are central focus. Teachers need to create safe spaces for such dialogue by providing structure and goals for student talk.
In the article Talking About Math, authors Allison Hintz and Elham Kazemi share the following strategies for guiding student discussions in the classroom (Hintz, A. & Hazemi, E. (2014). Talking About Math, Educational Leadership, 72(3), 36-40):
- Open Sharing. Open sharing strategy generates many possibilities for solutions. Students are asked to listen carefully, make sense of a variety of strategies, analyze the ideas of others, and determine if their own solution is similar or different to others. A key question within this strategy is, “Did anyone reach a solution a different way?”
- Targeted Sharing. Targeted sharing strategy guides students toward a single solution through the use of specific goals, defining and using key terms, or challenging and revising an incorrect solution. Students listen carefully and contribute in ways that lead to a consensus regarding a solution.
Open sharing and targeted sharing can be employed in a variety of content settings with careful planning. Think about these strategies as you prepare for the upcoming week. Try them a few times and see what comes from the discussions that arise.