Do some of your classroom discussions fall flat with students? From asking the right questions to finding ways to involve everyone, facilitating classroom discussions can be difficult. If you’re looking for ways to make your classroom discussions more engaging, check out these three ways you can supercharge your classroom discussions and get students talking about what they’re learning:

1. Give Everyone Equal Opportunities to Contribute

When it comes to having effective discussions with your students, it’s important that you push for equal opportunity. Whether you use randomization techniques or allow students to pass the discussion to another student, coming up with ways to evenly distribute opportunities for students to talk is essential to great classroom discussions.

2. Ask Students Questions that Encourage Discussion

If you want to have effective discussions with your students, don’t ask yes or no questions or questions that have obvious answers. Your focus should be on asking open-ended questions or questions that don’t have one single correct answer. These types of questions are more likely to encourage discussion and require students to use their critical thinking skills. It’s also important that you ask students a variety of questions, but don’t go in sequential order from the easiest to hardest questions—mix them up!

3. Use Follow-Up Questions to Expand on Students’ Answers

Asking students follow-up questions can expand on and clarify their answers. Follow-up questions can be used as opportunities for students to provide evidence for their answers, or you can ask them questions that will help them look at the issue from a different perspective. Here are a few example follow-up questions you can use in classroom discussions with students:

  • “Can you tell me more about this?”
  • “What from the reading made you think that?”
  • “How can you convince me of this?”
  • “If this situation happened to you, how would you handle it?”
  • “What would you say to someone who thinks differently?”

Check out our Elementary section for a variety of supplemental materials and classroom resources, and be sure to request a copy of our new 2016 Kaplan Elementary catalog!