Documentation:ISW/Lesson Plan/Theme Session/Leading Discussions

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This face-to-face session incorporates the ISW BOPPPS model. It does not require additional preparations by the participants. It is an fun and energizing large group session and works well for the last day of ISW.

Face to Face Component


Time: 1 min (1:00) Sometimes when instructors think of using discussions, they imagine a chaotic classroom and may even shy away from using discussions altogether. Today we are going to go over some techniques to manage discussions so that you can use them as useful learning activities in your classrooms.

Prior Knowledge and Perception Probe

Time: 3 min (4:00) Q1: What sorts of ways have you seen discussions structured in classroom settings? Q2: How do you feel about using discussions in classrooms? Anyone nervous? If yes, why?

Learning Objectives

Time: 1 min (5:00) By the end of the lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Appreciate the benefits and challenges involved in using discussions as a teaching technique
  2. Explain the benefits and drawback to 3 different discussion structuring techniques
  3. Discuss strategies for running discussions effectively in the classroom


Time: 15 min (20:00) Materials: Timer, Chime, Paper/cards for notes

We are going to start off today’s lessons with a friendly debate. You will be assigned a side to the debate and you have to try to argue for your side and convince us that the other side is wrong.


  • 5 min to plan
  • 3 min to argue (*2)
  • 1 min to plan rebuttal
  • 1 min to rebut (*2)

You are allowed to cheer for your team if you aren’t the speaker!

Team A – Discussion is ALWAYS good in the classroom! Team B – Discussion is NEVER good in the classroom!


Time: 15 min (35:00) Materials:Chime,questions on flipchart to reveal sequentially

We’re going to move now into something called a snowball. This snowball begins with individual reflection.

Reflection (1 min)

At this time, I’d like you to think about a classroom discussion you have experienced. Everyone got one? Now I’d like you recall what that discussion was like - what happened during the discussion and what did the instructor do?

Pairs (2 min)

Now, I’d like you to share with a partner how you personally feel about using discussions in the classroom

Pairs of Pairs (4 min)

What are some things that have or would have made discussions run smoothly and help student learning? What challenges arise, or may arise, if you use discussions?

Large group (8 min)

  • What are some strategies you can use to help discussions run smoothly?
  • How can you overcome the challenges that might arise in running a rich discussion that helps your learners to learn
  • If needed, may need to ask what are some challenges – then ask group if they have seen any ways that this has been handled (example challenges – how to increase quiet people; how to decrease loud people; how to initiate a discussion; how to structure a discussion)


Time: 10 min (45:00) Back to debate groups – inner circle and outer circle; Inside circle discusses, outer circle observes.

Question to Inner Circle 1: Reflect on the snowball discussion technique you just experienced – when would you want to use it? When would you not want to use it? (5 min)

Switch - Inner circle becomes outer circle and vice versa.

Question to Inner Circle 2: Reflect on the fishbowl technique – when might you want to use a technique like this? When not? (5 min)


Time: 5 min (50:00) Revisit the learning objectives

  • What were the 3 types of discussion we used in this lesson?
  • What were the key points that you took out of the discussion?

Module Credits

This module has been designed by the Graduate Student Facilitators at the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) at UBC- Vancouver