How do I create an effective Discussion Topic?

The effectiveness of a Discussion Topic can be greatly enhanced by remembering a few simple guidelines:

  1. Provide an eye catching subject phrase that summarizes the discussion topic.
  2. If applicable, set the stage for the discussion by providing background information.
  3. Provide an article, a reading, a quote, an exercise, an interactive or any other artifact to bring the group to the same starting point for the discussion.
  4. Provide one meaningful question, scenario, case, or debatable statement that will provoke learners to respond and engage actively in discussion.

The discussion prompt should promote critical thinking, community and generative learning, examination of professional practice and/or sharing of professional experiences and knowledge. Avoid the question mill. One main question with one or two supporting questions should be enough. Be respectful of you audience, the teachers are professionals with knowledge and experience to be shared.

Below is an annotated sample Discussion Topic. Notice how the guidelines above are used throughout the message.

Sample Discussion Topic

Provide an eye catching subject phrase that summarizes the discussion topic.

Name: Teaching vocabulary in your content area

If applicable, set the stage for the discussion by providing background information.

After analyzing the test results in our team meeting, we came to the conclusion that one of the goals for this coming year is to improve reading comprehension of our students and decided that the first step was to increase their vocabulary.

Provide an article, a reading, a quote, an exercise, an interactive or any other artifact to bring the group to the same starting point for the discussion.

You asked me to share some resources so you could prepare for this discussion. I liked "Reading Instructional Handbook: VOCABULARY" because it reminded me that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Provide one meaningful question, scenario, case, or debatable statement that will provoke learners to respond and engage actively in discussion.

Has your stance on vocabulary instruction in the content area you teach changed after this reading? If it did, how did it change? How do you plan to help your students learn difficult vocabulary?

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