In regards to the aspects of recitation vs. discussion that we talked about in class, there are obviously positives and negatives to each. When my CT initiates a recitation style class dialogue, he uses tongue depressors with each students’ name; therefore, everyone has a turn to talk. That, in itself, is an essential reason for teachers to continue using the recitation method, when appropriate. I think it’s very important that everyone has an opportunity to express themselves and share their thoughts and ideas. This also allows us (the teachers) the opportunity to give informal assessments of our students. Recitations also clip along at a decent pace. This is very evident in my field placement. The school day flies by and there is so much to get through. Obviously, incorporating collaboration and classroom discussion is a priority to many teachers. But how can we incorporate such a time consuming process? That’s where recitations come in; students answer questions, and we move on.
That being said, I believe that authentic classroom discussions are a must throughout the day. The practice of taking a step back and allowing the students take a more active role in their learning is very important, and that is exactly what happens when a real classroom discussion is taking place. Teachers become the facilitators, and then the spectators, and students take the active role of interacting with each other, asking probing questions, participating in meta-cognitive thinking, and encouraging one another to be creative and expressive. Allowing this practice to take place can be really difficult for a teacher. As we talked about in class, teachers are extremely used to being the “benevolent dictator”. Well, it’s time for that role to change.
As I said before…incorporating authentic classroom discussions into our daily teaching practices will be time consuming; especially in the beginning. Students are not used to this sort of dialogue; therefore, its important that we scaffold the process for them. We should have the students participate in role-plays that show the correct process of interacting where there is no right answer. We need to practice the correct ways in which we should interact with each other; i.e., with respect, integrity, empathy, etc.. Students don’t come to class with this knowledge…we have to help them gather it.
One more important thing to consider...authentic classroom discussion does not have to end when the students leave for the day. It is here, that a teacher must consider the benefits that a class blog, (click on the previous link and you'll find 50, must-read, up-and-coming teacher blogs) and/or wiki would offer. A classroom wiki/blog would be a collaborative forum that students could access at any time. They could facilitate their own discussion. Twitter could be used as a way to facilitate classroom discussion. The technology available in the 21st century is astounding and it is expanding our students' horizons for collaboration.