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Brainy Apples: Setting Discussion Norms
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Setting Discussion Norms

Setting discussion norms is critical if you want your students leading your class discussions. Regardless of what subject you teach, having students take the lead will result in them taking ownership and responsibility more so than if you are dictating the conversations.

social studies, Brainy Apples, student-led discourse

This is something I start at the beginning of the year, so that as time passes, my students become more comfortable at contributing to our class discussions. You want to lay the foundation for the academic conversations that will take place throughout the year. Usually you will have students who are reluctant to participate, and you will also have students who like to be the center of the discussion and try to take control. It's important to establish norms so that your quieter students won't feel overpowered and your louder students give those quieter students ample opportunity to participate. Students need to learn how to have student-led discourse, where the teacher is an active listener and the students are the leaders.

It is also very important to teach students how to participate in an active discussion, especially when there is not one right answer. You have to deliberately teach students how to debate ideas in a positive manner where they respect and value each other's contributions to the discussion.

I discuss each norm with students and provide an example of each with selected students acting out each norm. I found that having students role play each norm with an acceptable action or response AND an unacceptable action or response helps students get a concrete idea of what is and is not appropriate. After we go over each norm, I post them in a prominent place so students can easily refer to them during the year. Students will use these reminders often, and you want to encourage them to refer to the norms if they aren't being followed.

 I found it's easier to help students learn these norms by introducing two a week. If you choose too many, then students aren't able to focus on each norm and really understand how to follow it. After about a month, you will have introduced all of the norms to students, and you can expect them to follow all of them. Remember to encourage students to review the norms any time they forget one of them.

If you would like the poster set in the photo below, you can click {HERE} or on the photo. It's free! I made a full color set and a black and white set. You can print the black and white set on color paper to save on color ink.
social studies, student-led discourse, Brainy Apples

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