Activities to Spark Discussion in the Classroom

Activities to Spark Discussion in the Classroom

Stacy Zeiger
by Stacy Zeiger 3,883 views

Teachers often spend a lot of time in front of the classroom talking to students, but students need a chance to talk too. Bring some fun discussion activities into the classroom to give students a chance to share their thoughts and interact with you and one another.

Role Play Scenarios

Bring in real-world application by having students role play common scenarios. You can start with a script to get students comfortable, and then ask students to share their thoughts on what happened during each scene. Once students are familiar with role play, you can simply throw out a scenario and have them act out how they would respond.

Anticipation Guides

Anticipation guides contain statements about key themes found in a text. These statements are often controversial, such as "It is okay to lie sometimes" or "War is evil." Students write whether they agree or disagree with each statement, and then share their reasons for believing that way. When students discuss their answers, remind them that their is no right or wrong for each scenario as long as students can back up their positions.

Socratic Seminars

A Socratic seminar can be held in response to a short article, a longer novel, or common themes you have discussed in class. Students sit in a circle and respond to questions. Typically, they are given the questions in advance and allowed to jot down notes to use during the discussion. Not only are students graded on the content they bring to the discussion, but they are also graded on their participation during the seminar, including how well they listen and respond to others and whether they dominate the discussion or show other disrespectful behaviors.

Gallery Walks

In a gallery walk, you place pictures, short texts, quotes, or other items to spark discussion around the room. Students walk around the room in small groups and comment on those items or write responses to them on big sheets of paper. As they walk around the room, students are encouraged to talk with the people in their groups to share their thoughts.

Hot Seat

A student who takes the hot seat sits at the front of the room and pretends to be a book character or an expert on a topic. Other students in the class pose questions for the one in the hot seat to answer.

Talk Show

Sometimes students struggle with speaking on the fly, but give them a scenario such as a talk show and they may feel more comfortable. Host your own version of The View orThe Real and have a few students sit around the table to discuss a special topic. You can also use a more traditional format with a host and a guest, such as on The Ellen Show. To help students know what to do, show them examples of talk shows before they begin.

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