David Didau using structured discussion to teach a class of Year 9 students on Othello

How structured discussion works

he teacher asks a question about the content being studied and then directs it at a particular student. The student then gives an answer. Instead of either paraphrasing their answer in academic language or just saying, ‘great’ and moving on, the teacher then asks the student to elevate their response so that they ‘speak like an essay’. This can be hard for students to do and so it may require the teacher to provide a scaffold to elicit a more academic response or a model for them to repeat. Then other students should be asked to repeat what the first student has said. If they’ve said it, they’ll be able to write it down.

This pattern is then repeated with as many children as possible asked to participate. They can be asked to expand on or reply to other students’ answers, but responses must always be mediated by the teacher to make sure children are supported to speak in academic language.

David’s blog on structured discussion

If students are to be academically successful, they need to be fluent in the language of academic success.