Discussion-Rich Schools : Some Resources

T. Elijah Hawkes
3 min readApr 12, 2023

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I took the picture above in a third grade classroom recently. I asked the teacher why she (and some of her colleagues across the hall) set up the room in this way. She discussed how community and collectivity is just as important as individuality. I look forward to going back for another visit to see how she conducts her class.

A commitment to discussion is the sort of thing we need to see more of in our schools, as I write in “Why Many Middle School Classrooms Are In Crisis,” which names the crucial importance of classroom discussion as a means of engaging young people in their learning: a way for them to express the ideas, questions and emotions they bring to school each day.

A recent article in ASCD magazine provides a good overview of why discussion-rich schooling is important, and includes strategies and resources: Teaching Students to Talk Across Political Difference.

In addition, below is a short compilation of resources I’ve collected related to cultivating discussion for learning in the classroom — and in the meetings of adults in schools.

Discussion norms/agreements

Discussion protocols & strategies

The importance of questions

Multi-Lingual Learners — and the importance of discussion

  • New standards for teaching multi-lingual learners “reflect decades of research that shows that learning is a social process in which working, conferencing, and engaging in extended oral discourse with peers and teachers are critical in achieving learning.”

Books

Restorative practice often requires discussion skills and protocols.

My two books have a lot on the importance of discussion in the classroom and in faculty and staff meetings:

Socratic Seminar

It’s important that students can ask each other questions and learn how to have discussions with each other about topics in the curriculum.

Guides for discussing/confronting racism, white nationalism, conspiracy theories

“Talk Moves” & Intentional Talk in Math Classes

The Common Core Standards

What else?

Do you have resources you suggest I share here? Please contact me.

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T. Elijah Hawkes

www.ElijahHawkes.com Educator, author of WOKE IS NOT ENOUGH: School reform for leaders with justice in mind (2022) and SCHOOL FOR THE AGE OF UPHEAVAL (2020)