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Participating in a Discussion: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Evans

Mary has taught elementary school for six years and has a master's degree in education.

Participating in a discussion is a great way to share your thinking on a topic or text, and it's also a great way to find out what your peers think. Read this lesson for tips on how to effectively participate in a discussion.

Come Prepared

It is important to prepare before a discussion on a topic or text. You can prepare by making sure you know your material (read the text!), bookmarking any important parts for discussion, and journaling to warm your brain up for discussion.

Speak Up

Participating in a discussion can be a little scary at first, but it's important to express yourself in a group. It's a good rule of thumb to try to say at least 3 ideas or thoughts. Ideas for things to talk about can come from your reading journal. You might ask a question about the text, talk about something you realized while reading, relate the text to another text, or explain why the text makes you feel a certain way. When you have something to say, you can raise your hand or just wait for a pause in the conversation. It feels good to say what you're thinking!

Use Evidence

When you express an idea about a topic or text, it's helpful to support your thinking with evidence from the text. This means that instead of pulling ideas out of thin air, you are rooting them in the author's words or facts from a lesson or other text. When you refer to evidence, other people are more likely to understand or agree with what you are saying. To refer to something means to bring people's attention to it.

In a discussion, you should refer to information from something you have learned or read already. For instance, if you want to make the point that a character is dishonest, you can open your book to the part where that character lied to his mother. Reminding the group of this will help other people to understand your point of view. It may also prompt them to add their own evidence and move the discussion along.

Actively Listen

Your participation in a discussion is more than just expressing your own ideas. It is important to not only say what you think, but also to listen and respond to other people's comments. One mistake students often make is thinking so hard about what they want to say that they forget to listen to what someone else is saying. Like a game of volleyball, a discussion depends on at least two people bouncing ideas back and forth. You can't tune out just because you don't have the ball!

Not everyone has the ball, but everyone has their eyes on it.
Photo of volleyball game

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