Friday, August 21, 2015

Small Group Discussion Strategies

Are you tired of using the same speaking and listening strategy in your classroom over and over again? We love the tried and true strategy "Turn and Talk" but are ready to add a few more discussion strategies to our teaching tool belts. Getting students to have meaningful small group discussions can be difficult. 

In the past, I have had students collaborate in small groups. I am sure you have all experienced the same difficulties that I have. Your top students naturally lead the conversation and do most of the work which makes it easy for the other students to get away with not participating. Because of this, we have created some strategies that will engage ALL students in discussions and as well as meet the Speaking and Listening Core Standards.

Conversation chips are a great way to hold students accountable for discussion while at the same time limiting the amount each student can participate. It is an excellent strategy for every type of learner in your classroom. First, the teacher assigns students into small groups and provides a topic or text for them to discuss. Then each student gets 3 conversation chips. Students can only add to the discussion if they have a chip. Teacher can set an expectation that each student needs to contribute all chips to ensure all students are participating in the discussion. It is a perfect solution to get all students equally participating.

Another effective and engaging strategy is using our conversation sticks. This one is simple. Students can only talk if they are holding the conversation stick. Again, teachers can set expectations that each student needs to hold the stick so everyone is equally participating. 

Try our FREEBIE discussion strategy to get meaningful discussions started in your classroom today!

With the Numbered Heads Together strategy each group member gets a number (numbers included in download), then the teacher asks a question. The small group works together to think of an answer. Every student must know the answer because the teacher can call on any number for the answer. It is such a great way to engage student and ensure participation. 

You can purchase more  K-3 discussion strategies here

or our 3-5 discussion strategies here


  1. Where did you get the stands that you hang your signs on? They're adorable!


    1. Hi Ali. We found our instructions on this blog:

      It has instructions and materials. Let us know if you have any other questions.