Communication around concepts (e.g., content we want students to learn) should be more than just a teacher articulating what the learning goals are.
How many times have we asked students to do an activity without engaging them in a way that makes the activity feel relevant and meaningful? It’s important that students can explain why they are doing a particular activity, how it’s related to other subject areas, and, most importantly, other areas of their daily lives.
When asking students to discuss concepts, we must go further than telling them to “share your answer with a shoulder partner.” Their conversations should be built on a prompt that’s engaging, instructionally challenging, highly cognitive, and conducive to multiple entry points and solution pathways. Prompts to initiate discourse should be posed in ways that invite wonder, speculation and exploration.
Student discourse doesn’t happen just by telling students to get in a group and work together. One way to turn a prompt into an engaging discourse is to have your students create a video reflection. In this learning experience, students engage by questioning the reasoning of their peers. Strategies that work well in this collaborative environment include: wait time and think time, turn-and-talk, think-pair-share, think-write-pair-share, and one of my favorites, “think-pair-on-air.” Instead of sharing their conclusions and thinking with the class, students can create a video to share on the class YouTube channel.
Allow your students to find a space to record their video reflection, whether it's at their desk or a designated space for video creation. If students need alone time, let them record at home or find a supervised place at school where they can spread out.
Based on the prompt, teachers should encourage students to talk about how or why they did what they did, or what they believe. Most importantly, the classroom culture must support curiosity and sense-making, which is demonstrated in the questions students ask in their reflection videos and to one another.
Once the videos are shared with the class, it’s important that students build on each other's thinking and generate arguments based on the videos they viewed. Teachers can ask for justification and encourage students to question and extend their own thinking, even after the video creation process.
Student discourse plays a crucial role in developing higher-level cognitive thinking. This student discourse video experience provides students with multiple opportunities to share, compare, contrast, reflect, revise and refine. The “Think-Pair-On-Air” strategy allows students to process their own thoughts before sharing with others, allowing them to organize their thinking in creative and meaningful ways. The next time you ask your students to share with a partner, try this activity for a more rigorous, engaging and meaningful experience.
For more classroom inspiration, be sure to check out Dr. Lang-Raad’s new book, “WeVideo Every Day: 40 Strategies to Deepen Learning in Any Class”.