NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1045378
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Nov
Pages: 6
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0013-1784
From Mindless to Meaningful
Billings, Laura; Roberts, Terry
Educational Leadership, v72 n3 p60-65 Nov 2014
Despite teachers' best intentions, traditional whole-class discussions sometimes end up sounding like the monotonous drone of Charlie Brown's teacher. But with careful planning, teachers can structure discussions that encourage meaningful student interaction and collaborative thinking, write Laura Billings and Terry Roberts of the National Paideia Center. They describe three important components of such discussions: text selection, questioning strategies, and ongoing assessment of speaking and listening skills. Teachers set the stage for dynamic discussions when they select a strong anchor text: one that is rich in ideas and values, complex and intellectually challenging, relevant to the curriculum and to participants, and essentially ambiguous. Next, teachers craft meaningful opening, core, and closing questions in a well-planned sequence that first invites all students into the discussion, then forces them to wrestle with the text's meaning, and then allows them to consider the text's personal relevance to themselves. Finally, teachers help students set speaking and listening goals and assess their progress both individually and as a group. Discussions structured in this way, write Billings and Roberts, can be one of the most meaningful learning experiences a student enjoys during the school day.
ASCD. 1703 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA 22311-1714. Tel: 800-933-2723; Tel: 703-578-9600; Fax: 703-575-5400; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A