This year we have introduced something called a round table discussion. The students sit together and face one another. We then have them read an article or will tell them something to spark a conversation. It may be something controversial which will invite a debate or be something to simply share their personal view on the subject.
To begin with the teacher will need to guide and manage the flow of the conversation. Once the students have had enough experience it can be handed over to them. A lead student (tracker) can then record who speaks and contributes to the conversation by mapping it on a piece of paper.
We have found that it is best to start with the whole class. This will model how to conduct the discussions. Once they get the hang of it, then reduce the number of students. The dynamics will shift immediately and the quieter students will feel more comfortable to express and engage with the conversation.
This is such a powerful way to promote speaking and listening skills. The students then summarize the conversation and gain a deeper insight to different perspectives. From here they may either shift their original thinking because of someone else in the group or just strengthen their own conclusion.
Experiment doing this in your class to suit the students you teach. We will be doing this a lot more and will share these films with you in the near future. If you do try it please show us how you approached it with your students.