Whole group discussion is a powerful way to make meaning as a classroom community. Discussions begin with teachers posing open-ended questions and inviting students to enter into a dialogue about the text.
Strategies for Whole Group Talk:
formulating open-ended questions to initiate the discussion
eliciting student ideas
pressing students to clarify, extend their thinking, and justify their ideas (i.e. "Can you tell me more about...?" "Can you show me an example from the text?") (See Talk Moves)
modeling the use of Talk Moves that facilitate discussions
Video: Strategies for whole group discussions about literature
In small groups, students are able to make meaning collaboratively. Small group discussion strategies should be modeled for students and introduced gradually over a period of time. Students will need many opportunities to explore the strategies during a variety of discussion contexts.
Strategies for Small Group Talk:
Familiarize students with the different roles individuals might take on during small group discussions (i.e. discussion leader, note-taker, reporter, researcher).
Use exit cards or written reflections post-discussion.
Provide feedback on the discussion process and check in with groups regularly.
Teach the Talk, Not the Text from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) gives teachers ideas for using talk to make meaning of texts.