If you are a teacher, one of the most important things you can do is to encourage students to speak up during class. Lectures are boring, and if you are going to rely just on lecturing your students, or forcing them to just take notes for 45 minutes a day I don’t think you are going to allow your students to get the best quality learning experience. One of the most important things you can do is engage the students in a class discussion.
One of the best ways to engage in class discussion is to have the class already prepare some comments that they would like to make. For example, you should take each student and tell them that they are going to present an answer from last nights homework in front of the class, and ask one leading question. That way everyone gets involved, and those who want to talk further can continue the debate in class.
I had one professor who actually just had us write a one page paper on any particular topic that related to the class. That was how we got our participation grade, and it allowed the professor to start the conversation. Since it could be about almost anything, there was surely something controversial that could spark a debate.
Asking an edgy question can get the class involved. Finding something that they are going to be really passionate about can help set off a good debate. Whether it be something like heath care reform, or something that is really affecting these kids lives, it is going to spur the debate, and get the discussion going in class.
A good way to get class discussion going is to have a role-playing session. Have the students come to class with the expectation that they are going to play one of the roles that they have learned about. Whether it be a political figure, or some charachter in a play, it will allow them to have a discussion while actually seeing what it is like to be that figure being studied.
There are many ways to get a class discussion going, and those are some of the best. They are good, easy ways to get kids ready to go for a good debate in class. The ways that I discussed above are the main ways that teachers that I had got the discussions going, and some of them were so good that they didn’t always end in class.