Speaking and Listening at Key Stage 2 and Beyond
Section 1.3 - Children need direct guidance and structured practice in speaking and listening.
An activity: What makes a good discussion?
With a group of student teachers, a useful awareness-raising activity is to ask them the following question: if you were in a classroom and overheard a group of children who were working together having what you would consider a good, productive discussion, what exactly would they be doing, and what would you hear? (That is, ask them to describe the observable features of the children's talk, such as 'asking each other questions'.).
Write down all their responses on a flip chart and try to establish some agreement about which features are most crucial, the extent to which features might vary with particular kinds of task, and so on. Then ask them:
- if they think that 'good discussions' are common in classrooms (research has shown they are not)
- if they and their fellow students are effective users of language in such situations
- if they were ever taught how to engage in such discussions in school
- how they think children might best be helped to develop good discussion skills; and
- you might also compare their list of the features of a good discussion with the definition of Exploratory Talk (see above).