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Information to help support your classroom teaching covering a range of topical issues about school life


New Resources   Information to help support your classroom teaching covering a range of topical issues about school life. There are ideas to help you manage your classroom and inspiration to help bring your lessons alive for the children.

If you have any suggestions for topics that could be covered in our blog then please contact us so that they can be added to this section

Resources Class Discussions
Resource Preview You can use class discussions on a range of topics and ideas to develop the children's speaking skills in a range of different group sizes as part of a safe classroom environment. The children's oral responses can help to illustrate their understanding of different ideas and concepts linked to curriculum subjects. It is important to ensure that the children feel confident in expressing their ideas on different topics to another child, a small group or the class sure in the knowledge that they their ideas will be listened to and responded to carefully by their classmates.

Look for different opportunities during a lesson where the children can articulate and discuss ideas related to their work. Keep the class on their toes by introducing discussion activities throughout the lesson so that the children know that they will not only have to discuss class work at the beginning and end of a lesson but at different snapshots during their work to develop their understanding as they progress through the activity. Help the class develop their debating skills by scheduling weekly discussions on a range of school issues and current events.

Thinking Time
You should avoid putting pressure on the children to discuss different ideas related to the lesson topic by expecting them to immediately offer responses to questions and discussion ideas. Rushing answers and discussions can mean that the children will only provide monosyllabic or confusing responses as they panic about what to say to the class. Allow the children plenty of time to think about their responses to questions and discussion topics before sharing with others. Get the class to spend a couple of minutes thinking about their own responses to the question or issue before then sharing their thoughts with a partner and then with the whole class. This approach will ensure that everyone in the classroom will have an opportunity to discuss the question or issue even if they are not selected to share their thoughts with the whole class. Use drama to help the children focus on the discussion activity. Tell them to role-play putting on their thinking caps before using their hands to simulate a flashing light bulb when they have selected a response to share with a partner or the class.

Lesson Plenaries
At the end of each lesson, time should be built into the activity to allow the children to review and consolidate their understanding of what they have been learning. Use class discussions at this point of the lesson to assess the children's understanding of any concepts and ideas so that you can plan future activities to deepen and strengthen the children's knowledge and skills. Make sure that each child gets to fully participate in any plenary discussion by allowing all of the children to share their ideas with a partner or small group whilst a selected number of pupils can make comments to the whole class. Use a checklist to ensure that each child has an opportunity to speak and share their ideas in the lesson plenary. You can also use this time to target individual children who might have been struggling during the lesson to assess whether they have fully understood the concept or idea by the end of the activity.

Speaker Selection
It is important that you devise a system whereby all children have an opportunity to discuss and share their ideas with the class during the course of the school week. Before the start of any discussion, you can notify selected children that they will be called on to speak and share their ideas during the initial stage of the discussion. This will ensure that you can target specific children to show an understanding of a particular topic or idea. Keep a checklist record of which child has spoken during any class discussions so that all pupils can participate in the activity during a school week. You should also advise the class that they are also expected to contribute to the discussion after the ideas shared by the initial group of pupils in case any children decide to switch off in the knowledge that they will not be called on to speak during the discussion.

Class debates
Select some time during the week to hold a class debate on issues relating to the class or school or current events in the news. Choose some children each week to lead the debate by producing a short speech on the topic or issue to share with the class before opening up the debate for other pupils to share their ideas. Keep a checklist record of children speaking during any debate so that you can ensure every child gets a chance to lead a debate or share their ideas over the course of the term. You can train some children to act as the chairperson for the debate by calling on different speakers and maintaining order.

Questions and Answers
You need to be careful about the types of questions that you use when leading discussions on different topics and issues in the classroom. You should avoid asking lots of closed questions that require single word answers and opt for more open questions that allow the children to express their ideas in detail as responses to discussion points. Teach the class how to back up their responses by citing examples from the lesson or topic that they have been discussing. For example, in a science lesson ask the children to explain their findings by describing exactly the results of any tests that they conducted or during a geography lesson you can get the children to express their views by referencing evidence collected during a field trip.

Points of View
As part of any classroom discussion, you need to ensure that the children are considering the issues from different points of view to help them develop a balanced view of the world. For example, during a class discussion on traffic pollution you can get different children to share ideas from a range of groups connected to the issue such as car drivers, cyclists, pupils walking to school so that the children can develop an appreciation and understanding of different points of view.

Resource Preview Discussion Questions
Sets of cards to help the children discuss a range of topics on a series of real and imagined issues as part of a weekly classroom activity. You can choose some children to select some of their own topics for the class to discuss.

Recommended Teaching Group: Year 1/6

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