Friday, December 5, 2008

Topic: Pre-service Training in Discussion

10-second review: Questions about discussion discussed during teacher training.

Title: “Missed Opportunities in Cyberspace: Preparing Pre-Service Teachers to Facilitate Critical Talk about Literature Through Computer-Mediated Communication.” S L Groenke. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (November 2008), 224-233. A publication of the International Reading Association (IRA).

Quote: “…in preparation for discussion and online chatting, the prospective teachers and I will first discuss questions such as the following: What are your beliefs about Teachers’ and students’ roles in discussion? Where do these beliefs come from? Who benefits from such beliefs? …. Why is the more teacher-controlled I – R – E* pattern the predominant pattern of discussion in most English classrooms? Why does it feel ‘risky’ to let students control, or more fully participate in, discussion?” *Teacher initiates question; students respond; teacher evaluates the students’ responses. RayS.

Comment: At least in my teacher training, no one discussed how to discuss literary works with students. Do many teachers, therefore, organize discussion as their teachers discussed literature with them—teachers ask questions, students answer questions and teachers accept or reject the answers? As with so many skills in teaching, we should not assume that teachers know how to organize literary discussions.

I still think the Great Books approach to discussion works best: teachers should never ask questions to which they know the answers. I think teachers should identify the students’ questions and let the students discuss the answers. Teachers should try to participate without dictating the answers
. RayS.

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