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Discussions are as much about listening as they are about asking good questions.

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Presentation on theme: "Discussions are as much about listening as they are about asking good questions."— Presentation transcript:

1 Discussions are as much about listening as they are about asking good questions

2  Model active listening.  Use positive reinforcement for students who demonstrate good active listening.  Look for patterns of particular bad listening habits that point to a recognizable pathology.  Identifying a student’s or your own bad listening pathology can help you decided the best solutions.

3 The Mortar Lob occurs when:  a student has prepared a single “round” he or she found in the materials for the day's discussion and is ready to discuss it in detail.  the student waits for the opportunity to “fire” the prepared set of comments. Problem:  The student throwing the Mortar Lob can disrupt a discussion by failing to integrate his or her comments into the conversation.

4  Reward preparation for class while still providing clear expectations that each speaker should provide a link between his or her observation and the preceding discussion.  In the moment, you might say, "That's an interesting analysis, Rick, but I'm not sure how it relates to what Sharon just said. Can you help us to see the connection?"

5 The Mongoose’s Strike occurs when:  a student’s hand goes up while another student is still talking.  a student pounces on a minor weakness in some part of the last speaker's statement rather than engaging her or his whole set of ideas. Problem:  This behavior pattern can result in a disjointed series of comments instead of a conversation.  Additionally, other students may feel discouraged from talking if they feel they are not being heard by their classmates.

6  Whenever someone starts waiving a hand before the speaker has finished, address the behavior directly: "Put your hand down. You can't be listening if you already know what you are going say.”  Require the speaker to relate his or her comments to those of the last speaker: "Well, Cheryl, I guess you disagreed with John about one small piece of what he was saying—how do you respond to the rest of his statement?"

7 The Spartan’s Shield is deployed when:  you ask a question, and the student turns it aside with a deft parry and then goes on to make whatever observation he or she has in mind. Problem:  This type of student can quickly stop the organic flow and progression of a discussion.

8  Ask the student to return to the question and answer it; this reinforces the necessity to keep comments in context.

9 You can recognize a Pit Bull when:  a student seizes on a particular issue and pursues it relentlessly; often, they will pick similar issues in every discussion (e.g., a Marxist view, a libertarian perspective, or a feminist approach). Problem:  When a particular perspective becomes identified with a given student, the class (and the leader) may stop listening because the points seem automated.  The Pit Bull limits his or her comments to issues related to his or her familiar issue.

10  One possible solution to require non- bulldogs to present different points of view.  Encourage all members of the class to explore the issues presented from a perspective different from their own. This may lead to a more original and less predictable presentations.

11 Aka, “I Don't Need to Know This.”  This student’s attention often wavers during a conversation, frustrating the instructor who senses that they do not recognize the relevance and importance of the points being made.  This student often waits in sullen boredom while another student is talking and rejoins the discussion when the instructor starts speaking again.

12 Aka, “I Already Know This.”  Nothing shuts students' ears more surely than the feeling that they have already learned the material. Sometimes they are right. More frequently, they have overestimated their command of these ideas

13 Discussion-based teaching provides an opportunity for motivated learning spurred by an understanding of relevance.  Ask the class to identify why the points under discussion are relevant. It’s always best when they can persuade themselves and each other.  Ask the Tune-Outs to think out loud about what their classmates have said and why it may be important.  Pose a problem designed to highlight the limit of the Tune-Out’s existing knowledge.

14  The Teacher's Express: The classroom program is billed as a discussion but is a lecture or a fully planned exploration of the subject in the order determined by the leader.  Hiding the Ball: When the instructor has in mind a preferred answer to the questions he or she asks.  Everything Goes: The instructor is waiting to hear only the desired response; the rest is hardly heard at all. Or, the instructor and class operate in the mode of false affirmation, approving of each comment or observation.

15  Discussion learning is at its best when a conversation moves from one point to the next naturally. When transitions are forced, or completely preplanned, they may be artificial.  It is important to make members feel less threatened, more at ease. Students will not contribute voluntarily or comfortably unless they feel confident that they won't be savaged. But, if everything goes, bad observations will drive out good ones and there won't be anything worth listening to.  It is a delicate—but vital—task to help the class distinguish between attacking ideas and attacking their authors as people. The instructor must foster an attitude that all ideas are tentative and are offered for examination

16  Prevention (or cure) of listening pathologies requires that the instructor trust the class and behave accordingly.  The best demonstration of trust is truly listening to your students and reacting to what they say.

17  Charley Wilcox ◦ Office 312-362-8638 ◦ Home 773-327-6092 ◦ Cell 773-727-0975 ◦ Email

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