Leading a discussion – TeachingWorks Resource Library (2023)

What is leading a group discussion in social studies?

What is leading a group discussion in social studies?

In a group discussion, the teacher and all of the students work on specific content together, using one another’s ideas as resources. The purposes of a discussion are to build collective knowledge and capability in relation to specific instructional goals and to allow students to practice listening, speaking, and interpreting. The teacher and a wide range of students contribute orally, listen actively, and respond to and learn from others’ contributions. From Core Practice Consortium, 2014 and TeachingWorks, 2017.

How can leading a group discussion advance justice?

Facilitating group discussions is an intellectual and a democratic act. The discussions we envision feature participation from a broad array of students who are diverse in demographics, academic achievement, and point of view. Discussions are a place where students work together to consider different perspectives and construct understanding, regardless of students’ social or academic status. At the same time, discussions can easily calcify societal inequities if particular students or perspectives are subconsciously or intentionally marginalized. To combat this risk, teachers keep particular ethical obligations in mind, ensure that all students have opportunities to voice their thinking, demonstrate respect for students’ thinking, and press for consideration of alternative ideas. In other words, discussions can be a lever for redistributing power in the classroom.

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Why work on leading a group discussion?

Learning is fundamentally a social activity. People learn from talking through their existing ideas and listening to the ideas of others, especially when the ideas represent differing viewpoints. Furthermore, argumentation is central to the work of historians, geographers, political analysts, and economists, all people who might be considered experts in one of the major social studies disciplines. Through co-constructing ideas during a discussion, students can engage with valuable content and begin to see that social studies is a subject of ever-evolving interpretations rather than fixed truths.Students deserve the chance to create and defend their own arguments, and to consider and critique the interpretations of others.For novices, learning to lead a group discussion is a foundational practice for approaching social studies as inquiry, and builds on other instructional practices such as eliciting student thinking and setting up and managing small group work.

What is the role of leading a group discussion in the social studies classroom?

Social studies inquiry lessons ideally give students opportunities to Engage in the inquiry, Experience analyzing social studies artifacts and Argue for or against interpretations through discussion or writing (a.k.a., the “EEA” framework). Discussion often takes place in small groups during the Experience portion of the lesson, and in whole-class groups during the Argue portion of the lesson. Discussion is particularly fruitful once students have had a chance to explore historical or social scientific sources, and discussions often revolve around the central question of the lesson, such as Was Columbus a hero or a villain? or Should Civil War monuments remain or be removed? After discussions, students are prepared to write arguments taking into account all they have learned from the sources and their peers.

(Video) TeachingWorks Seminar

Discussions in social studies often take on a specific structure. Examples of these structures include a Socratic Seminar, Structured Academic Controversy, or debate. In this resource, we use a Public Issues Exploration structure, where students grapple with a current civics or Constitutional history topic and sources of local or national relevance before discussing this issue as a group. Because of this choice, we engage novice teachers in a Public Issues Exploration as students (see Activity 1) and ask them to analyze Public Issues Explorations before leading one in a classroom. Other forms of discussion can easily be used instead of the Public Issues Exploration throughout these activities.

How do we represent this practice in social studies?

Leading a discussion – TeachingWorks Resource Library (1)

Through work with the Core Practice Consortium, Reisman, Kavanagh, Monte-Sano, Fogo, McGrew, Cipparone and Simmons (2017) represented four areas of work (center Venn diagram) that are necessary to facilitating a rich discussion in social studies. Researchers identified these areas by analyzing the discussions that teacher candidates at two universities led in their field placement classrooms.

Even if you attend to each of these areas of work, your discussion might lead to more learning for some students than others or reinforce traditional power structures in the classroom. Therefore, we also include three ethical considerations (outer circle) to guide teachers’ work and advance justice while facilitating discussions. We explain each below and share some video clips as illustrations.

Engage students as sense-makers: Ask students open-ended questions that have multiple possible answers, that prompt students to think about the content, and that demonstrate curiosity about students’ ideas. This might include asking the central historical question or exploring a historical document. In the clip below, the teacher has students make sense of a visual artifact from the Silk Road region in pairs before sharing their ideas to the class.

(Video) TeachingWorks Streaming Seminar with Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

Orient students to the text: Orienting students to the text might include asking students to use textual evidence to support a claim, working with students to summarize or make sense of one text, or directing students to a particular part of the text. In this clip, the teacher guides students to identify texts and examples to support their claims about whether post-apartheid South Africa is living up to its promises.

Orient students to each other: This involves asking students to engage with each other’s ideas. This might include referencing a student’s idea, asking a student to rephrase or respond to an idea offered by one of their peers, or highlighting a student’s idea for the class to consider. In this clip, the teacher has students agree and disagree with each other’s ideas about the reliability of sources for learning about the ancient Silk Road. The teacher also connects multiple students’ ideas to facilitate other students commenting on the contributions of their peers.

Orient students to the discipline: Orienting students to the discipline involves highlighting when students are doing or prompting students to do authentic disciplinary work. This might include asking questions that rely on disciplinary ways of reading and writing, highlighting the claim-evidence structure of historical arguments, or making a comment about what it means to study history or social sciences. In the first video above at 1:30, the teacher highlights the work of one student who changed her interpretation after hearing new information as a key way that historians think. In the same video at 2:11, the teacher highlights students’ disciplinary work in comparing multiple sources.

Equitable Access: All students should have access discussions in social studies. Examples of attending to equitable access might include the following:

  • Giving all students a chance to participate through quick “turn and talks”
  • Modifying questions to provide entry points for all students
  • Highlighting contributions from students with less power and authority
  • Providing visuals to help students track on the discussion

Difference and Diversity: Discussions in social studies should value and bring out diverse perspectives. Examples of attending to difference and diversity might include the following:

(Video) TeachingWorks Seminar

  • Choosing content representative of diverse social groups and identities, or voices that are underrepresented in social studies curriculum
  • Encouraging students to challenge one another’s ideas
  • Questioning perspectives in historical text
  • Recognizing that students’ participation patterns may vary based on their cultural backgrounds

Power and Authority: Discussions in social studies can invert traditional power structures of whose voices are heard and valued. Examples of attending to power and authority might include the following:

  • Noticing how often the teacher speaks and how often students speak
  • Changing the teacher’s location in the room (i.e., away from the front)
  • Questioning the reliability of authors and sources in text
  • Orienting discussion around student ideas
  • Considering when to revoice a student’s idea or when to let their idea stand on its own
  • Assessing the way diverse social identities are portrayed in the text and in the classroom

How do we decompose the practice into learnable parts?

Leading a discussion – TeachingWorks Resource Library (2)

In the chart below, we map our Social Studies/History conception of discussion (middle column) onto the TeachingWorks areas of work in discussion (left column). All of the history/social science areas of work occur across the various TeachingWorks areas of work. Each social studies example in the right-hand column corresponds to an aspect of the TeachingWorks areas of work. In the right-hand column, parentheses label which History/Social Science area of work the example represents.Leading a discussion – TeachingWorks Resource Library (3)

Supporting Novice Teachers

In the social studies methods course at the University of Michigan, we provide examples of teachers leading discussions in order to represent discussion facilitation as a practice focused on generating student talk and co-construction of ideas rather than teacher-centered talk. When novices try leading discussions on their own, we often find that novices engage students as sensemakers and orient students to the text, but struggle to orient students to each other or to the discipline. We have found it important to help novices lead discussions in ways that move students towards a learning goal rather than simply encouraging open sharing, and we use central inquiry questions that teachers ask multiple times throughout the lesson as a way to focus lessons on those learning goals.

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Explore Curriculum Resources


What is leading a discussion? ›

The nuts and bolts of leading discussion involve two fundamental activities. First, you must be prepared to ask good questions, whether to get the ball rolling, restart a stalled section, or redirect a discussion that seems to be going off topic or off the rails.

How do you effectively contribute to a discussion? ›

Be Prepared, Attentive and Original
  1. Prepare. This may be more important to contributing in a meaningful way to classroom discussions than anything else. ...
  2. Listen. This may sound obvious, but active listening is of paramount importance during a class discussion. ...
  3. Be Original. ...
  4. Ask Questions. ...
  5. Summarize Others. ...
  6. Be Concise.
12 Nov 2021

How do you start a guided discussion? ›

Starting a discussion
  1. Refer to questions you distributed. ...
  2. Make a list of key points. ...
  3. Use a partner activity. ...
  4. Use a brainstorming activity. ...
  5. Pose an opening question and give students a few minutes to record an answer. ...
  6. Divide students into small groups to discuss a specific question or issue.

What is the discussion method? ›

Discussion methods are a variety of forums for open-ended, collaborative exchange of ideas among a teacher and students or among students for the purpose of furthering students thinking, learning, problem solving, understanding, or literary appreciation.

What are the 5 steps for leading? ›

5 steps to becoming an effective leader
  • Know your team. Leadership is, first and foremost, a “people's” job. ...
  • Lead by example. More often than not we see leaders that adopt the “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy. ...
  • Be direct. ...
  • Talk to your team. ...
  • Listen to your team.
2 Aug 2022

What are the 5 ways of leading? ›

5 key leadership behaviors you must have
  • Learn compassionate management.
  • Leaders adapt to change.
  • Embracing a coaching mindset.
  • Leaders practice effective listening.
  • Cultivating an inspiring vision.

What are your key points for discussion? ›

Below, we have laid out seven primary discussion points to cover during these meetings to ensure a structured, productive and worthwhile exchange.
  • Objectives and SMART Goals. ...
  • Personal Development and Career Growth. ...
  • Give Employee Feedback. ...
  • Employee Issues and Concerns. ...
  • Are Employee Skills and Strengths Being Utilised?

How do you lead a successful class discussion? ›

Highlight one main question or no more than three main points. Focus on ideas and skills.  Tell students why the topics or questions are relevant to mastering the material, to understanding larger issues, and to doing well in the class (writing the paper).  Define terms.

What is the most important part of doing a successful discussion? ›

The first and the foremost tip for an individual to perform well in a GD is to learn the art of participation. Don't expect others to force you to speak. Take the initiative, participate in the discussion and share your ideas with others. Never shout in a group discussion and always wait for your turn to speak.

What are 4 types of discussion? ›

They deliberate, dialogue, declare, or debate.

What are five planning steps of discussion? ›

CCSS: Five Steps to Get Students Involved in Class Discussions
  • Information evaluation.
  • Productive collaboration.
  • Attentive listening and subsequent expression of ideas.
  • The ability to use and adapt media and visual displays in context.
  • Argumentation.
  • Synthesis of multiple-source information.

What is the structure of guided discussion method? ›

As with a lecture, a guided discussion should have an introduction, the experience development, and a conclusion. In the guided discussion, it is important that the introduction catches the attention of the student providing motivation to discuss and engage in the topic.

What are the three types of discussion? ›

These different types of discussions serve different purposes, are useful in different phases of a lesson or unit, and have different characteristics depending on their purpose.
  • Discussion Type Summary. Initial Ideas Discussions. ...
  • Building Understanding Discussion. Purposes/Goals. ...
  • Consensus Discussion. ...
  • Consensus Discussion.

What are the 3 types of discussion question? ›

THREE TYPES OF QUESTIONS: 1. Factual 2. Interpretive 3. Evaluative Page 5 FACTUAL QUESTIONS Page 6 FACTUAL QUESTIONS Everyone will eventually agree on the answer.

What are 4 effective group discussion techniques? ›

  • Model the behavior and attitudes you want group members to employ. ...
  • Use encouraging body language and tone of voice, as well as words. ...
  • Give positive feedback for joining the discussion. ...
  • Be aware of people's reactions and feelings, and try to respond appropriately. ...
  • Ask open-ended questions. ...
  • Control your own biases.

What are the five keys for leading a meeting? ›

Simon Zryd
  • State the Purpose of the meeting and how it is related to the Organization's Goals. ...
  • Masterpiece your Agenda. ...
  • Appoint a Leader. ...
  • Attendance. ...
  • Identify Next Steps.
31 Aug 2017

What are the four styles of leading? ›

Types of Leadership Styles
  • Autocratic.
  • Democratic.
  • Laissez-faire.
  • Transformational.
14 Mar 2022

What are the key elements of leading? ›

What Are the Key Elements of Leadership?
  • Transparency. When a leader is transparent, they are challenged less by those they oversee. ...
  • Learn from Failure. Experiencing failure has the power to shape a leader. ...
  • Trust. One of the core principles of leadership is trust. ...
  • Confidence. ...
  • Decisiveness. ...
  • Humility. ...
  • Creativity.

What are the 6 theories of leading? ›

6 main leadership theories
  • Great man theory. ...
  • Trait theory. ...
  • Behavioral theory. ...
  • Transactional or management theory. ...
  • Transformational or relationship theory. ...
  • Situational theory.

What are the most effective methods for leading? ›

Effective Leadership Techniques To Amplify Your Team's Success
  • Extraordinary leaders inspire others to be great. ...
  • Leading by example. ...
  • Praise employee's to motivate others. ...
  • Communicate objectives and goals early on to ensure success. ...
  • Identify and address employee dissatisfaction. ...
  • Let others speak first. ...
  • Ask Employees.

What are the 5 types of discussion? ›

Description These five types of open-ended, level three questions (enduring, critical, hypothetical, metacognitive, & socratic) provide students with structured ways to format ideas and facilitate higher-level discussion.

What are 3 skills that are important for a successful group discussion? ›

Group Discussion Basic Tips

The aspects which make up a GD are verbal communication, non-verbal behaviour, and conformation to norms, decision-making ability and cooperation. You should try to be as true as possible to these aspects.

How do you lead a class conversation? ›

How to teach conversational English online
  1. Prepare lists of questions. ...
  2. Answer your own questions. ...
  3. Talk slowly, but don't treat them like they're a kid. ...
  4. Have topics that are common, but ask for the student's opinion. ...
  5. Let silence hang, but know when to prompt. ...
  6. Use the chat box or a white board to spell things out. ...
  7. Take notes.
2 Feb 2021

What is class discussion strategy? ›

Classroom discussion is a practice in which the instructor and students share views on a specific topic previously lectured. Promoting and facilitating classroom discussions can not only help students learn from one another but also help students understand and retain the lecture better.

What is the main purpose of the discussion? ›

The purpose of the discussion is to interpret and describe the significance of your findings in light of what was already known about the research problem being investigated, and to explain any new understanding or fresh insights about the problem after you've taken the findings into consideration.

What are three characteristics of discussions? ›

I will look for five primary characteristics of good discussion: your ability to synthesize, to question, to engage in argument, to use the readings and to hypothesize.

What are discussion tools? ›

What are Discussion Tools. Discussion tools allow for conversation or dialogue between learners through mediums such as text, video, audio, and imagery. Posts are made by individual contributors, which can be viewed and responded to by others.

What are the components of discussion? ›

Here are the three components of a discussion:
  • Purpose:
  • Planning:
  • Participation:

How do you conduct a discussion program? ›

How do I get started?
  1. Decide on the topic to be covered.
  2. Choose panelists with a range of things to say.
  3. Plan for gender fairness.
  4. Coach your guests.
  5. Start with a strong introduction.
  6. Get out of the way—but keep control!
  7. Respect your panelists.
  8. Plan for feedback from listeners.
14 Sept 2016

What are the 7 principles of planning? ›

Seven principles for strong planning
19 Oct 2009

What are the 7 stages of the planning process? ›

How to Strategic Plan in 7 Steps
  • Step 1: Environmental Scan. ...
  • Step 2: Internal Analysis. ...
  • Step 3: Strategic Direction. ...
  • Step 4: Develop Goals and Objectives. ...
  • Step 5: Define Metrics, Set Timelines, and Track Progress. ...
  • Step 6: Write and Publish a Strategic Plan. ...
  • Step 7: Plan for Implementation and the Future.
26 Apr 2022

What are the characteristics of a guided discussion? ›

Identify the advantages of a guided discussion.
  • Allows everyone to participate in the learning situation.
  • Pools knowledge and experience of all participants.
  • Stimulates and motivates participants when well organized.
  • More closely simulates real world situations through discussions.

What are the five key features of guided writing? ›

Synthesis of prior research and analysis of study data resulted in the identification of five key principles necessary for effective instruction with multimodal text sets: attending to motivation and engagement, thoughtfully selecting sources, framing instruction as inquiry, supporting student synthesis, and writing ...

What are three components of a discussion section? ›

In a discussion section, the author engages in three necessary steps: interpretation, analysis, and explanation.

What are effective discussion questions? ›

Start with Open-Ended Questions – these types of questions help begin a discussion because they encourage multiple viewpoints. They also tend to invite students to share their opinions, which can generate additional topics or define crucial issues.

What are the types of discussion techniques? ›

These discussion strategies utilize tech tools that enhance learning and connectedness.
  • Silent Discussions. ...
  • Color-Coded Conversations. ...
  • Human Bar Graphs. ...
  • Collaborative Note Catchers. ...
  • Virtual Questions. ...
  • Google Form Groupings.
12 Sept 2020

What are some good discussion questions? ›

Conversation Topics For Anyone
  • “What is your favorite thing about your personality?”
  • “What do you love most about your home?”
  • “What's one habit you want to get rid of and one habit you want to keep?”
  • “What was the first big purchase you made as an adult?”
  • “What does a perfect day with the family look like?”
3 Nov 2022

What makes a good group discussion? ›

Keep discussions constructive and positive

Ask dominant participants to allow others to speak. Give all participants a voice- at the start highlight the value of a diversity of perspectives as an essential part of the process.

What are the tools of group discussion? ›

Tools for Leading Discussion Sessions
  • Focused Listing. You can pose a question and allow students to think about the answer. ...
  • Each-One-Teach-One. ...
  • Small Group Discussion about Reading. ...
  • Minute Paper. ...
  • Think-Pair-Share. ...
  • Muddiest Point/Clearest Point. ...
  • Other Considerations. ...
  • Additional Resources.

What are the 6 basic types of small group discussion? ›

Six Types of Discussion Types
  • Brainstorming. A discussion process in which the leader presents a topic or problem and solicits open-ended ideas about it from all group members. ...
  • Tutorial. ...
  • Task Group. ...
  • Role Playing. ...
  • Simulation. ...
  • Inquiry Group.

What is the the definition of leading? ›

lead·​ing ˈlē-diŋ : coming or ranking first : foremost. : exercising leadership. 3. : providing direction or guidance.

What does leading a meeting mean? ›

Leading the meeting doesn't mean dominating the discussion; rather, it entails setting expectations, paying attention to the flow of the conversation, keeping people on-topic and on-schedule, asking follow-up questions where necessary, and defining next steps at the end of the meeting.

What is leading explain with example? ›

What is leading by example? Leading by example is a leadership style where you model the behavior you want to see in your team members. When you lead by example, you don't just push team members towards excellence—rather, you actively demonstrate that excellence.

What is an example of leading? ›

For example, a leader can be leading by example by accompanying the marketing team on a field visit to popularize the company's products. The leader should pitch clients the same way the marketing staff is doing, and this will boost the overall morale of the team.

What is the role of leading? ›

Leaders help to communicate the vision and mission of the firm to employees. This provides direction and helps everybody identify the roles that best fit skills and experiences. Through clear communication, leaders encourage their subordinates to act for the actualization of objectives.

What is the work of leading? ›

Leadership is the action of leading people in an organization towards achieving goals. Leaders do this by influencing employee behaviors in several ways. A leader sets a clear vision for the organization, motivates employees, guides employees through the work process and builds morale.

What type of word is leading? ›

As detailed above, 'leading' can be a verb, a noun or an adjective. Adjective usage: Avoiding leading questions if you really want the truth. Adjective usage: He is a leading supplier of plumbing supplies in the county. Adjective usage: The stock market can be a leading economic indicator.

How do you lead a discussion in a meeting? ›

  1. Model the behavior and attitudes you want group members to employ. ...
  2. Use encouraging body language and tone of voice, as well as words. ...
  3. Give positive feedback for joining the discussion. ...
  4. Be aware of people's reactions and feelings, and try to respond appropriately. ...
  5. Ask open-ended questions. ...
  6. Control your own biases.

What makes a good leader? ›

Respectful: Great leaders treat their teams with respect, gaining respect in return. Transparent: Being open and honest makes work more efficient and enjoyable. Trusting: Leadership requires delegation–trusting their team to complete what they are assigned with excellence produces positive morale and mutual respect.

What are 2 aspects of leading by example? ›

Leading by Example
  • Authenticity requires leaders to model desired professional and ethical behaviors. ...
  • Emotional intelligence describes how leaders identify and manage their emotions and those of others through self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.
27 Sept 2021

What is an example of a good leader give an example? ›

Good leaders share a level of brilliance that enables them to inspire the masses toward new ideas and innovations. Examples include Mahatma Gandhi, Oprah Winfrey, and Martin Luther King Jr. Reading about exceptional leaders is beneficial because it allows you to learn positive traits and behaviors to emulate.

How do I lead my team? ›

The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team™
  1. Develop a Leader's Mindset. Leading a team requires a different mindset than working as an individual contributor. ...
  2. Hold Regular 1-on-1s. ...
  3. Set up Your Team to Get Results. ...
  4. Create a Culture of Feedback. ...
  5. Lead Your Team Through Change. ...
  6. Manage Your Time and Energy.


1. TeachingWorks Seminar
(University of Michigan)
2. TeachingWorks Seminar
(University of Michigan)
3. TeachingWorks Seminar
(University of Michigan)
4. Taught Graduate Orientation 2022
(UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems)
5. MTPD: Practice Makes Perfect, Using Practice-Based Teaching Methods in UTeach Courses
(UTRGV UTeach)
6. Kryon October 2022 》 Hidden in Plain Sight
(Kryon 3)
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