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Discussion samples

Samples*

Issues raised by the samples


Rosie’s Walk
: small-group discussion with teacher (first grade)

Leaves: whole-class discussion of fallen leaves (fourth grade)

Arrays: whole-class math discussion (second grade)

Grouping, multiplying: whole-class discussion (fifth grade)

Bar graphs: whole-class discussion (fifth grade)


Who’s doing the work?  
Compare the teachers’ objectives and opening moves in Leaves and Rosie’s Walk. Arguably, the teacher in “Leaves” is taking on the work that the objective calls for students to be doing, and the teacher in “Rosie’s Walk” is getting students to do that work.

Questions: The opening question of Leaves is object-based.  The opening question of Rosie’s Walk is response-based. A question can be asked as “the teacher’s question” or as a discussion participant’s question. In Rosie’s Walk see “I wonder why he never got the hen,” as compared to Leaves: “What do we call these lines?”

Leading and following students: In Rosie’s Walk check out the sequence in which Benjamin, Takiya, Richard, Shamir, Carlos and Israel all speak on the issue of whether Rosie knew the fox was following her, with little more from the teacher than invitations to say more. Track Takiya in Rosie’s Walk. How can the teacher support Takiya’s leadership?

Mysteries: In Arrays the teacher asks, “If I couldn’t see this, how would you describe it to me?” Student D’s four following responses seem strange, but on examination, they look more like an intelligent rejection of the teacher’s premise and then a capitulation to the teacher’s continuing demands. For the student, perhaps, a descent into nonsense.


*In an actual sketch form, the notes might be comprehensible only to the person who made them. The samples here are full transcripts of classroom discussions.