Sarah Brown Wessling's Masterclass: Creating Discussions that Teach Thinking, US, Monday, 25. March 2019

Talking Their Way to Knowing: Creating Discussions that Teach Thinking
We know that learners process their understanding through discussion. But so often, it's the teacher doing all the talking when it comes to classroom discussions. In this masterclass, we'll explore what to do before, during, and after a discussion to help our students take ownership of not only the conversations, but also their learning. With both practical ways to frame discussions and ideas for designing them, this session will help teachers return to their classrooms more confident in both silence and productive talk.


This is a tried-and-true workshop from 2010 National Teacher of the Year, Sarah Brown Wessling, broken down into (5) 30-60 minute long modules.

Outcomes include:


Learn about the influence of instructional design on the effectiveness of classroom discussions.


Learn how to prepare and facilitate discussions in ways that keep students at the center.


Learn how to use discussion to propel student learning.


Learn how to “troubleshoot” the imperfections of discussions.


In addition to the session with Sarah, each module also includes:

An essential question—how this will help you as a teacher;
What you will learn and take back to your classroom;
A one-pager with reflection questions and additional resources to share with your PLC, teacher team, or school.



Module 1: The Big Picture

What You Will Learn: Student-driven discussions rest of a set of pedagogical beliefs about how students learn. In this module, we’ll talk about some of those beliefs that are crucial for turning discussions over to the students.


Module 2: Before the Discussion
What You Will Learn: You will learn how to “create a runway” for successful discussions in the days leading up to them. Also, we’ll look at all kinds of discussion formats to match your learning purposes.


Module 3: During the Discussion
What You Will Learn: You will learn about the kinds of behaviors and language of facilitators that either inhibits or opens discussions. We’ll look specifically at behaviors that allow us to “use the silence” and “outlast the awkward.”


Module 4: After the Discussion
What You Will Learn: You will learn how to navigate the “what now” question. Do you grade the discussion? Do you give feedback? How do you use it as part of a learning progression? No matter where you are in your thinking on this, we’ll address it for you!


Module 5: When They Don’t Talk & It Doesn’t Work
What You Will Learn: In this module, we’ll address those concerns for discussions that don’t go as planned. Sometimes it’s because students aren’t prepared, other times it’s because they just won’t talk. Here we’ll look at how to address these “inevitables.”


 About Sarah:
Sarah Brown Wessling, an Iowa State undergraduate and graduate alumna in English, was named the 2010-2011 National Teacher of the Year. President Obama conferred the honor on Wessling on April 29 in the White House Rose Garden. Considered the nation’s top teaching honor, this award is sponsored by the Chief State School Officers. Wessling was selected from among the 2010 state teachers of the year.
Wessling was named the 2010 Iowa Teacher of the Year by the Iowa Department of Education. She has served as the department lead teacher of Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa, where she has taught for the past 10 years, preceded by one year of teaching at Cedar Falls High School.
Wessling has received numerous awards, including National Teaching Board Certification in 2006 and the Iowa Governor’s Scholastic Favorite Teacher Award recognition. She is president of the Iowa Council of Teachers of English (ICTE) and the recipient of various ICTE awards.
Wessling received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English with specialization in Teacher Education in 1998 and her Master of Arts degree in English in 2003, both from Iowa State. She was a recipient of the Graduate College Research Excellence Award for her thesis, which analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively the reading and writing experiences of advanced placement students. Wessling was featured on the cover of associate professor Donna Niday’s first co-authored book on mentoring beginning teachers, and Wessling co-wrote a chapter in Niday’s second mentoring book.



Sarah Brown Wessling's Masterclass: Creating Discussions that Teach Thinking

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