Activities which encourage the development of discussion and debate
Start with open ended questions as they encourage all pupils to contribute and allow different perspectives to be heard. When the opening questions require a factual answer they can sometimes close down some pupils who assume that all the questions will be closed and that there is a right answer expected so they are less likely to participate.
Asking questions which help pupils to define their knowledge and understanding
v What do you mean by that?
v Can you give another example of?
v How does this help?
v Does anyone have a question to ask?
Ask questions which require multiple answers
What other ways could Ireland have been ruled in 1921?
What else would we need to be able to answer this question?
This does not require the pupils to recall information about partition itself but requires them to make a case and put together an argument with the details which will support it.
Ask questions which expect the pupils to think about their own assumptions and to follow an argument through with evidence
v How do you know that?
v Why do you think that?
v Do you have evidence for?
Reframing is a way of changing the way we look at something and thus changing our experience of something, turning it from a negative situation into a positive learning experience. Reframing can help in classroom situations where pupils are inclined to give more un-worked out and emotional responses during discussions on controversial issues. Often the pupils are responding to a perceived threat rather than an actual one and by reframing the question the teacher can help pupils to see the situation differently and respond more appropriately.
Instead of asking the question Does anyone have a question? This could be reframed to Can we put this another way?
What did we find most difficult to understand about a chosen topic? This could be reframed to What other ideas did people have about a chosen topic at the time? Asking pupils to reframe their own questions reminds them that there is no perfect understanding and there is no single right way to look at an argument or an interpretation.