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How to Encourage Effective Discussions and Debates in Classrooms

Teachers should strive to create an engaging, learner-centered environment.  Debates and discussion are an effective way to promote learning in the classroom. They help students develop the skills of organizing thoughts and communicate them to others clearly and coherently.

The use of debates enhances collaborative learning and critical thinking skills in schools. The create an engaging environment in the classroom where students learn the best. In this post, you will learn about five strategies that can help in effective discussions and debates in the classroom.

1. Explain the Benefits

Teachers should inform students about the benefits of debates and discussion. They should be encouraged to fully participate in the activity for optimal learning. Tell them why participating in the class is important despite the fact that they won't be marked. When students know the benefits of classroom debate and discussion, they will more likely fully participate in the activity. 

2. Encourage Every Student to Participate

Every student should be encouraged to participate in the classroom discussion. You should address each student by name and ask their views. Encourage other students to learn each other's names since this will increase the possibility that they will direct questions at each other, instead of the teacher.

3. Arrange Desks for Active Participation

Before the start of the debate or discussion, the desks should be arranged in a way that allows active participation. You need to arrange the room in a manner that students face each other.

Consider moving the chairs in a U position to ensure that everyone actively participates in the class. In case you are teaching in a lecture hall, you should ask students to move to the front of the class. At the end of the activity, chairs should be restored to the original configuration. 

4. Ask Students to Write Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions give more freedom to an individual to communicate his or her views. These questions require students to give detailed answers with supporting statements. Students should be encouraged to use this type of question instead of close-ended Yes/No or True/False questions.

5. Use Smaller Groups

Most teachers take the easy way and divide the class into two when it comes to classroom discussion and debates. However, this results generally results in 10 or more students per group. As a result, some students won't have the opportunity to communicate their views.

For increased collaboration and engagement, teachers should form smaller groups. They should create an even level of engagement by dividing the class into four or more groups. Consider no more than four individuals in a group. This will ensure that every student has a chance to participate in the class.

Debate and discussions help in improving civic awareness, communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. This can help students to develop skills that can prove invaluable during academic and corporate career. At the end of the class, you can use online testing software to make a quiz relating to the discussed topic. This can result in optimal learning in the classroom.

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