To me, discussion is synonymous with learning. I’m a firm believer that knowledge and meta-cognition are socially constructed, and that the most effective way to tap into that in the classroom is through discussion. The videos about teachers using classroom discussion closely reflect my own educational experience, and I feel lucky to have had teachers who recognized the importance of social learning. I plan on using discussion as the foundational element of my teaching.
I enjoyed reading about and watching the various forms that discussion can take, and plan on implementing several of them. For example, in the audio clip of the teacher using reciprocal teaching, I think assigning jobs to group members can be a great way to navigate the challenges associated with group work. If each student has a specific role in the group, work will be divided more evenly, allowing reluctant class participants to be engaged with the group work. For the same reasons, I’m a big fan of jigsaw groups. The small group format also encourages participation, as our authors point out that “a cooperative group, with its limited audience, provides more opportunity for students to contribute ideas to a discussion and take chances in the process” (Vacca, Vacca, Mraz 152). Small group discussion will be a key element of my instructional philosophy.
I also think that whole class discussion has a valuable role in the classroom. As a future middle school English teacher, the video about the Paideia Seminar was a glimpse of how I would love my classroom to be–a place where student response is valuable and meaning is socially constructed through teacher-guided, but student-driven discussion. By using reader response through our class discussions, reluctant participants will be encouraged that there is not only one answer to a question. If they read the text, then their response is valid and valued. A classroom guided by social constructivism and reader response is one that provides encouragement to readers and helps them develop self-efficacy. RCA2011