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Sarah Brown Wessling's Masterclass: Creating Discussions that Teach Thinkin...

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Talking Their Way to Knowing: Creating Discussions that Teach Thinking

We know that learners process their understanding through discussion. But so often, it's the teacher doing all the talking when it comes to classroom discussions. In this masterclass, we'll explore what to do before, during and after a discussion to help our students take ownership over not only the conversations, but also their learning. With both practical ways to frame discussions and ideas for designing them, this session will help teachers return to their classrooms more confident in both silence and productive talk.

The gist:

This is a tried-and-true workshop from 2010 National Teacher of the Year, Sarah Brown Wessling, broken down into (5) 30-60 minute long modules.

Essential questions for the course include:

  • What makes a productive classroom discussion?

  • How do we turn our discussions over to the learners?

Outcomes include:

  • Learn about the influence of instructional design on the effectiveness of classroom discussions.

  • Learn how to prepare and facilitate discussions in ways that keep students at the center.

  • Learn how to use discussion to propel student learning.

  • Learn how to “troubleshoot” the imperfections of discussions.

In addition to the session with Sarah, each module also includes:

  • An essential question—how this will help you as a teacher;
  • What you will learn and take back to your classroom;
  • A one-pager with reflection questions and additional resources to share with your PLC, teacher team, or school.

The course will run from March 25-April 29, with a new module being posted each week. On week 6 you will get a chance to join a live 2-hour Q&A webinar with Sarah.

Video recordings will be available up to two weeks after the Q&A webinar.

*There is an option to purchase only the recorded modules without the Q&A.

The details:

Module 1: The Big Picture

Topic: Making Learning Student-Centered

Essential Question: What do we need to believe about learning in order for students to engage in discussions?

What You Will Learn: Student-driven discussions rest of a set of pedagogical beliefs about how students learn. In this module, we’ll talk about some of those beliefs that are crucial for turning discussions over to the students.

Module 2: Before the Discussion

Topic: Teacher and Student Preparation for Successful Discussions

Essential Question: How do you prepare students for successful discussions?

What You Will Learn: You will learn how to “create a runway” for successful discussions in the days leading up to them. Also, we’ll look at all kinds of discussion formats to match your learning purposes.

Module 3: During the Discussion

Topic: Facilitating Discussions

Essential Question: Which “teaching moves” best help facilitate student-centered discussions? Which ones don’t?

What You Will Learn: You will learn about the kinds of behaviors and language of facilitators that either inhibits or opens discussions. We’ll look specifically at behaviors that allow us to “use the silence” and “outlast the awkward.”

Module 4: After the Discussion

Topic: Feedback & Assessment

Essential Question: How do I make the most of our discussions? Do I assess them? If so, how?

What You Will Learn: You will learn how to navigate the “what now” question. Do you grade the discussion? Do you give feedback? How do you use it as part of a learning progression? No matter where you are in your thinking on this, we’ll address it for you!

Module 5: When They Don’t Talk & It Doesn’t Work

Topic: Troubleshooting for Disappointing Discussions

Essential Question: What happens if it doesn’t work or if they don’t talk?

What You Will Learn: In this module we’ll address those concerns for discussions that don’t go as planned. Sometimes it’s because students aren’t prepared, other times it’s because they just won’t talk. Here we’ll look at how to address these “inevitables.”

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