Yesterday I had my students lead a class discussion. Since I wanted to make sure the discussion was centered around the text they had read, I decided to have them complete an in-class reading strategy first. Using the “Visible Thinking” website from Harvard’s Project Zero, I chose one of the Understanding Routines: Connect, Extend, and Challenge. Each of these three of concepts have questions to answer:
- Connect: How are the ideas and information presented in the text connected to what you already knew?
- Extend: What new ideas did you get that extended or pushed your thinking in new directions?
- Challenge: What is still challenging or confusing for you to get your mind around? What questions, wonderings, or puzzles do you now have?
On a handout that I had made, students took time to answer the questions prior to the discussion. The student-led discussion was the best I have seen from these students. By providing some time for the students to review the text, as well as directing them to think deeper about the material, I prepared them to apply the concepts and ideas from the text to the discussion instead of talking about what they liked.
By having the students re-engage with and review the text, I noticed that they were able to have a deeper discussion. In addition, I was able to collect these pieces of paper as an informal assessment of whether or not they had completed and/or understood the reading. I could also use this information to see what questions they may still have about the material. I will definitely be trying this strategy again!