Do you hear your students say things like:
"No! That's Wrong!"
"What are you talking about?"
"Stop being so bossy!"
Students Learn MORE when they discover new ideas from each other. How do you set up a class dynamic that encourages and promotes student-to-student interaction? Below are some ideas/materials that I have found a lot of success with. Try using them in your classroom or adapt them or share them - or do all three!
I created 4 posters to hang on the wall, model, practice and constantly refer to during lessons. These 4 posters helped my students with what I saw was the top 4 skills necessary to carry on true discourse. Feel free to print, enlarge, and hang up these posters in your classroom! During a lesson, I will walk around and if I do hear "No, that's wrong" I can refer the student to the DISAGREEING poster and ask them to choose another way to state that. Or, I would hear "What?" and refer the student to the CLARIFYING QUESTIONS poster. You can also teach students to 'refer each other' to the poster when they see another student that could use 'extra help' with each topic.
PROBLEM 1: Students weren't LISTENING to each other:
First and foremost, I created a list of things that I wanted to 'see and hear' my kids doing that showed they were LISTENING to each other.
PROBLEM 2: Students weren't STATING their thoughts clearly: Then, I created a list of idea 'stems' that would encourage students to use evidence to back up claims - this way, other students can see why a student made a claim.
PROBLEM 3: Students were ARGUING and DISAGREEING:
I created a list of 'respectful' ways to disagree. If I hear a student not using a respectful way, I refer them to the poster. This truly reduced arguments and even improved overall behavior!
PROBLEM 4: Students weren't ASKING EACH OTHER FOR CLARITY: This was so weird to me. They would hear another student's thoughts and then I saw confusion all over their face. So, I would ask, "Did you understand that?" and they would say "no". So, I taught students WHAT to say when confused. This reduced 'wasted' time in the classroom and boosted engagement!
Here's a Music Video that shows each of the 4 topics in the posters:
Here's a step-by-step process of how I slowly integrated conversation into my classroom (click to enlarge):
Here's an idea for a planning guide that you can use to write in some lesson ideas to go along with these topics (click to enlarge):
Here's an audio clip (radio show) where I explain these posters further. In the show, you can hear students actually using the prompts.