1 Creating a supportive environment for dialogue
We are now moving on to the topic of this unit, and we start with introducing whole class dialogue. We initially focus on
- Creating a supportive environment for dialogue, and
- Cumulative talk - creating a story together.
2 Introducing cumulative talk - creating a story together
Cumulative talk is talk in which all participants agree and add to the previous talk (or sentence).
Cumulative talk (10 min): Creating a story together All the participants get up to rearrange the seating. Arrange the group in a horseshoe seating arrangement(a) if there is room. If not choose another arrangement allowing participants to see each other. Facilitator starts a story by saying one sentence. All participants then contribute to the story by adding sentences.
A good story would:
- be contextually appropriate: for example, use common names of characters and a setting familiar to participants.
- have a theme relevant for participants such as education (girl-child receiving schooling later supports family), importance of forests and wild-life (saving a snake later becomes useful for invention of new medicine), treatment of diseases (steps taken by a family to treat an ill person) etc.,
- be short and have few characters, and
- have a problem which is collectively resolved in the end.
For instance, you could create a story about welcoming a new child to the school, perhaps a child with an impairment or some kind. Tthe facilitator starts by saying: "The other day, I heard my neighbours talking about whether their child should be starting school, because their child has difficulty walking, and they were not sure whether children like that should go to school." (Relates to Index for Inclusion, A1.1 Everyone is welcomed.)
Facilitator can introduce the notion of Talk Rules during this activity if needed. Some examples are: “everybody listens when one person talks” because they have to add to that sentence, “respect others’ ideas” by adding to rather than changing their idea, “make sure everyone in the group understands”, “try to reach consensus in the end” – participants don’t need to actually come to agreement but the process of trying gets people to listen to each other. You may want to ask participants to generate their own examples of Talk Rules.
The activity we just did is example of “cumulative talk” where participants build on what the previous person has said (“cumulative talk” is one example of whole class dialogue).
3 Introduction to the lesson (for context)
Observing, thinking, reflecting (10 min)Video on classification of vertebrates. In the ongoing OER4Schools sessions, the teachers would already be familiar with Eness' lesson. However, here, just to introduce Eness' lesson itself, let's watch these two videos:
4 Whole class discussion: Creating a supportive environment
Observing, thinking, reflecting (10 min) Video on classification of vertebrates. Video clips Eness vertebrates 10 ("Is a boy a mammal?") and 11 ("Is a whale a fish or a mammal?"); lively class discussion about classifying these animals, deliberately chosen to create controversy and to challenge the pupils
- Was there a supportive environment for pupil participation and dialogue in this lesson?(Relates to: LfL, 2) If so, how did the teacher achieve this?
- How did she help students to work out whether the boy and the whale were mammals? Did this discussion move their thinking forward?(Relates to: LfL, 1)
- What did you think about teacher control and pupil learning in these video clips? How would a horseshoe seating arrangement have impacted on this?
- How would you manage something similar in your classroom? How would you encourage pupil talk without losing too much control?
Did participants notice the “wait time” after asking a question before teacher made a further contribution or question? Increasing wait time a little increases thinking time and in turn leads to an improvement in the quality of students' responses.
5 Reflection on what we have learned
- Body language for encouraging dialogue
- Cumulative talk
- Encouraging most pupils to talk
- Withholding feedback sometimes to motivate pupils without fear of “wrong” answers: not evaluating pupil responses, just accepting them
- Forming rules for dialogue
- Managing the tension between control and learners’ freedom to contribute
6 Cumulative talk in the classroom
- Consider that when this activity is done in the classroom with pupils, themes should be chosen from the curriculum.
- Also consider that the seating arrangement can be modified according to teachers’ classrooms such that pupils see each other. Pupils can leave their tables and just move their chairs (or sit outside if the grounds are suitable).
As you are planning this activity, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do your students find it easy to talk?
- How can you encourage students to talk?
- Are some students likely to laugh at other students contributions? How can you create safe environments that enable students to take risks?(Relates to: LfL, 2.4)
You can use the activity template if you like.
7 Follow-up activities
Part A: Try out cumulative talk by asking pupils to create a class story, contributing one line each whenever they are handed the magic microphone by their peers. Use some of the techniques discussed in this session to create a supportive environment, for example: positive body language, enthusiastic tone, listening to each other before speaking and building on what the previous person has said. Encourage any shy children to have a go, and repeat the activity with another topic on other occasion so they get more used to public speaking.
In the next session, these follow-up activities will be reviewed. If you are using this session on its own, you can have a look at the review of follow-up activities here.
8 Review of follow-up activities from last session
In the last session, we asked you to try out cumulative talk in the classroom? How did that go?
9 Introduction to questioning
Questioning, offering opportunities for classroom talk, and listening to learner responses are an essential part of interactive teaching. They help teachers to determine
- what learners understand,
- what they misunderstand, and
- what they are actually learning.
10 Reflecting on current questioning practice
The idea behind this activity is to make the need for this session explicit.
You will need mini-blackboards and something for display (blackboard/flipchart).
Choose some topics that participants are teaching this week (from the curriculum), and display the topics (on blackboard or flipchart). Some examples are:
- the importance of water(Relates to Index for Inclusion, C1.2 ),
- living together(Relates to Index for Inclusion, C1.13 ),
- transport(Relates to Index for Inclusion, C1.5 ),
- types of fertilizers (organic and inorganic) and their advantages or disadvantages(Relates to Index for Inclusion, C1.1 ), e.g.
- uses of different parts of a plant(Relates to Index for Inclusion, C1.8 ), and
- health(Relates to Index for Inclusion, C1.6 ).
Same-task group work (5 min) in pairs: Coming up with some questions. Choose a topic from the board. Write a list of up to five questions on mini-blackboards or paper that you normally ask/would ask the pupils in class?
Allow only about 3-5 minutes for this activity so that spontaneous questions are recorded.
After 3-5 minutes, explain what open and closed questions are (see background reading below) and ask the whole group for a couple of example questions of each type for illustration. Write these examples (no more than two of each question type) on the blackboard or flipchart for reference during the game, or ask a volunteer participant to do so. When you are sure that participants have got the idea of the differences between the question types proceed with the game.
During the game, ensure that participants do not feel less motivated if their questions are more closed or surface type. To ensure this:
- Refrain from judging questions. Record/discuss questions factually without expressing any emotion.
- Mention that all types of questions have value and can be used for different purposes. Closed and surface questions are also important to some extent.
- Maintain positive body language by listening attentively.
Before the session, prepare the workshop room by marking OPEN on one side of the room and CLOSED on the other side. To keep it simple, draw a line on the floor with chalk and write OPEN and CLOSED!
To start the game, ask participants to look at the first question (on their respective lists), work out whether it is open or closed and move to the corresponding side of the room. When participants have categorised their first question, take a few examples from each side of the room for clarification that they have been correctly categorised. Participants move on to the second question on their list and categorise it in the same way.
Continue to play the game for five minutes, clarifying that questions have been correctly categorised after each new move, taking examples from different participants each time.
Game (5 min) on open and closed questions. The facilitator will ask you to categorise the questions on your list, one at a time, as open or closed and to move to the corresponding side of the room. Work through your questions one at a time and categorise them as closed or open when asked to do so. For each question, move to the side of the room marked OPEN if that question is open or to the side marked CLOSED if that question is closed. Be prepared to explain your rationale to the rest of the group.
Make this activity interesting by asking participants to run to the appropriate side of the room (OPEN or CLOSED) at the sound of a clap and ask the participant who gets there first to clap when it is time to move again after considering the second question, and so on.
11 Reading about open and closed questions
You can print this content on a separate sheet here: OER4Schools/Questions you can ask.
You can print this content on a separate sheet here: OER4Schools/Open and closed questions.
At the end of each session, we provide an overview of the activities in this session, together with their suggested timings. Although this appears at the end of the session (for technical reasons), you should keep an eye on this throughout the session, to make sure that you are pacing the workshop session appropriately!
Total time: 90 (min)
Activities in this session:
- Cumulative talk (10 min): Creating a story together
- Observing, thinking, reflecting (10 min)Video on classification of vertebrates.
- Observing, thinking, reflecting (10 min) Video on classification of vertebrates.
- Whole class dialogue (10 min) on the learning environment and classroom management.
- Whole class dialogue (10 min): Reflecting on what you have learnt.
- Same-task group work (10 min) in pairs: Planning cumulative talk in the classroom
- Agreeing follow-up activities(5 min).
- Same-task group work (5 min) in pairs: Coming up with some questions.
- Observing, thinking, reflecting (5 min) Facilitator talk on open and close questions.
- Game (5 min) on open and closed questions.
- Whole class dialogue (5 min): Reflecting on current practice.
- Observing, thinking, reflecting (5 min): Reading about open and closed questions.
If you have printed this session for offline use, you may also need to download the following assets:
- Video/Eness vertebrates 4.mp4 (local play / download options / download from dropbox)
- Video/Eness vertebrates 5.mp4 (local play / download options / download from dropbox)
- Video/19 Eness 3 vertebrates 10.mp4 (local play / download options / download from dropbox)
- Video/19 Eness 3 vertebrates 11.mp4 (local play / download options / download from dropbox)