CCSS: Five Steps to Get Students Involved in Class Discussions

As various states move toward integrating the Common Core State Standards(CCSS) into their curriculum, it’s important for teachers to engage their students in thought-provoking class discussions.

One of the main factors involved in the new Common Core State Standards for Speaking and Listening is that students should get an opportunity to master oral communications and build the social-interaction skills they need to listen and speak to others in any environment.

The social-interaction skills include the following:

  • Information evaluation
  • Productive collaboration
  • Attentive listening and subsequent expression of ideas
  • The ability to use and adapt media and visual displays in context
  • Argumentation
  • Synthesis of multiple-source information

These are just some of the criteria for students as they integrate the CCSS. Although students may be a little apprehensive in participating in class discussions, there are ways to get them involved. An article in Edweek.org outlines some strategies that have proven effective in the classroom:

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1. Turn Students Into Instructors

Students thrive when given opportunities to create their own learning environments. Given a base lesson, the students can prepare the lesson and formulate activities on how to teach the concepts to their fellow classmates. This would involve soliciting help from others to anticipate questions.

2. Plan Time for Students to Interact

When lessons are interactive and involve student discussion, it becomes natural for the students to anticipate their involvement. They will start to look for these opportunities to become involved with discussions and classroom learning.

3. Encourage Higher-Level Thinking

When preparing your lessons, take the time to construct leading questions that will foster student engagement — listening, thinking and speaking opportunities to explain their comprehension of the lesson. This allows all students to think on a higher level and explain their thoughts rationally.

4. Let Students Record Themselves Speaking

When students hear themselves speaking, it helps them learn to speak clearer and process their thoughts better. It’s natural to miss certain steps of explanation when you cannot hear yourself. This process will allow the students to take the time to formulate bullet points to adequately cover the lesson, demonstrating their comprehension and their higher-level thinking.

5. Give Students a Format for Their Explanations

Using prediction-based sentences, or starting with evidentiary support questions will allow the students an opportunity to understand the value of being able to explain their thoughts in a logical and concise manner for themselves and others.

Why Theses Strategies Work

All these strategies have proven to be very effective in assisting students through the process of higher-level thinking, comprehending what they have learned and being able to explain what they have learned orally in a logical manner. These skills are increasingly important as they continue through school and learn to effectively find their way in our society. Learning these skills now will help them succeed today and tomorrow.

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