Most educators value opportunities for their students to share ideas and express their learning through discussion. However, anyone who has tried their hand at facilitating a large discussion, both online and in classrooms, can speak to its challenges. And many researchers find that teachers believing they foster discussion actually close down or limit student speech, often unintentionally - and with inequitable impacts.

This course aims to build on the strengths that practicing educators bring, while addressing practice- and equity-based challenges, such as: How can I encourage particular types of participation and listening, including with sensitive topics? How should I respond to problematic language - or inaccurate ideas - without shaming the student? When and how should I share my own perspective, especially with open questions or issues? Educators will plan and lead multiple forms of text-based discussions relevant to their content area, age group, and student demographics. Through reflection and readings on teacher authority, positionality, and equity in learning, educators will deepen their understanding of their role within discussions as a form of knowledge construction. This project-based course will close with presentations and constructive feedback on participants’ lesson sketch for a future discussion in their learning setting.

This course is designed for grades 3-12 educators in any subject/content area who rely on discussion as an instructional method and/or assessment strategy. Participants will meet in three online synchronous sessions (3-5pm PST on July 22, 29, and August 5). Participants will also complete approximately 1.5 hours of asynchronous reading and coursework between sessions (3 hours total). Enrollment will be limited to 20 or fewer educators.

This course is offered at a special $90 rate in support of educators during this unique and challenging time. If you have a large group that you would like to enroll, please contact us about creating an individualized course for your team at professionallearning@uw.edu.

Course Objectives

Educators will gain confidence in applying new (or more varied) discussion methods through practice and reflection. Educators will deepen their understanding of the affordances and challenges of learning through discussion, including across student and teacher identities and positionalities. Educators will clarify their stance on sharing their own views (disclosure) and on their role within various student-centered discussion methods. Educators will analyze past and/or general patterns of inequity relevant to their learning setting, student demographics, and content area norms, and develop a lesson/unit sketch to support more equitable future discussions.