Managing Group Discussions
This strategy has helped me manage group discussions in my high school classroom in a clam, respectful manner and without being too disruptive.
Above all, I treat students as I would expect to be treated, with respect. When time is running short and students need to begin winding down their comments, I give them time to finish their last sentence. Normally, depending on what they’re doing that I’m stopping or interrupting, I’ll say, “Finish that comment in 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1.” I do this while I walk around the room, too, so everyone has a chance to hear me, even if they’re in the middle of an intense discussion.
I always count down because then they know how long they have to finish. Sometimes I count slower as I get to number 1, if I hear a student finishing a comment that is on-task. Sometimes, if they have to finish a conversation and put final touches on a presentation, I’ll count down from 7 instead.
As a side note, I oftentimes call on the last talker(s) past 1 to start off the discussion, but I never point it out. Students pick up on it though, as the year progresses, and I have fewer problems with kids talking over the countdown.