Professional learning courses

Coursework and instruction to improve discussion pedagogy

The Discussion Project, developed by leading educators at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a professional learning course for grades 6-12 teachers and college instructors. It is designed to improve discussion pedagogy as part of facilitating a more engaging, inclusive, and intellectually rigorous classroom environment.

Online professional learning

Our online coursework delivers an immersive experience for designing and implementing equitable, inclusive, and engaging online (rather than in-person) discussion.The interactive course provides structure and guidance for your team through a well-delivered curriculum.

  • Online video discussion.
  • Learn-by-doing synchronous sessions.
  • Class pre-work assignments to optimize effectiveness and model classroom environment.
  • Instruction led by educational leaders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison who specialize in discussion pedagogy.
  • A safe, convenient, professional development opportunity during (and beyond) the pandemic.
  • Course cohort size: a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 30 participants for the highly interactive sessions that maximize learning. The sessions are highly interactive and set in an environment that encourages participation to maximize learning.
  • Flexible pricing model: $1,000 per attendee for the first 20 attendees, $800 for the 21st to 30th attendee.

In-person professional learning

Our highly interactive in-person course teaches strategies for effective small and large group discussion. Instructors learn research-based approaches to design and implement equitable, inclusive, and engaging classroom discussion.

  • Immersive in-person learning facilitated across three days at an institution’s location.
  • Instruction and coursework delivered by academic leaders specializing in discussion pedagogy.
  • Adherence to local Covid guidelines to create a safe learning environment.
  • Course cohort size: a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 30 participants for interactive sessions that maximize learning.
  • Flexible pricing model: $1,000 per attendee for the first 20 attendees, $800 for the 21st to 30th attendee.

Course overview

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Module 1

Building Online Community

Learning Objectives

  • Create an equitable and inclusive classroom climate conducive to high quality discussion.
  • Learn different ways to structure and facilitate discussion.
  • Implement strategies that develop students’ discussion skills.

Activities

  • Rank Order Partner Discussion
  • Course Overview & Learning Methods
  • The Last Word Protocol

    Module 2

    Defining Discussion

    Learning Objectives

    • Distinguish between discussion and other forms of student talk.
    • Learn different ways to structure and facilitate discussion.
    • Implement strategies that develop students’ discussion skills.

    Activities

    • Defining Student Talk and Discussion
    • Structured Academic Controversy

    Module 3

    Facilitating Whole Class Interactions

    Learning Objectives

    • Learn different ways to structure and facilitate discussion.
    • Implement strategies that develop students’ discussion skills.

    Activities

    • Reasons for / Challenges of Whole Class Interactions
    • Whole Class Discussion
    • Ping Pong Share: Facilitation Techniques

    Module 4

    Structuring Discussion & Crafting Questions

    Learning Objectives

    • Learn different ways to structure and facilitate discussion.
    • Learn to craft questions that foster discussion.
    • Implement strategies that develop students’ discussion skills.

    Activities

    • Feedback Fishbowls
    • Crafting Questions
    • Practicing Small Group Discussion

    Module 5

    Planning & Assessing Discussion

    Learning Objectives

    • Design, implement, and reflect on plans for discussion.
    • Implement strategies that develop students’ discussion skills.
    • Understand the purposes and methods of assessment for improving discussion skills.

    Activities

    • Designing Discussion Plans
    • Snowball Discussion
    • Review Assessment Tools
    • Discussion Sandwich on Assessment
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    Module 6

    Critiquing Discussion Plans

    Learning Objectives

    • Design, implement, and reflect on plans for discussion.

    Activities

    • Partner Share on Planning
    • Critique of Discussion Plans
    • Debrief & Application

    Module 7

    Maintaining Community

    Learning Objectives

    • Create an equitable and inclusive classroom climate conducive to high quality discussion.
    • Learn different ways to structure and facilitate discussion.

    Activities

    • Equity & Inclusion Case Study Discussions
    • Recipe Discussion

    Find the right fit for you and your team.

    High quality classroom discussion engages students in critical thinking and leads to a deeper understanding of course content. It requires students to inquire, listen to others, consider different perspectives, think critically and deepen learning.

    People in a group discussing a paper

    Teachers and leaders in grades 6-12

    Courses for teachers and instructional leaders

    The course work helps all teachers by providing actionable techniques to implement classroom discussion in grades 6-12 classrooms.

    The Discussion Project’s team of K12 teaching experts deliver research-based, interactive training so educators can foster and manage classroom discussion essential to learning and achievement.

    Laptop screen showing multiple people in a virtual meeting

    Higher Ed instructors and leaders

    Courses for instructors and institutional leaders

    College instructors need an advanced set of teaching skills to create an educational environment that fosters effective classroom discussion.

    The Discussion Project empowers instructors develop skills and learn sustainable strategies to design, implement and facilitate high-quality classroom discussion to improve student academic performance.

    TESTIMONIALS

    What our professional learners say

    Cassandra McKay-Jackson

    Associate Professor, Director, Social Work Program, Erickson Institute

    “It was fantastic and should be a requirement for any new instructor. Intentional activities that made us think quickly and make decisions, also the preparation was a useful part of the learning various strategies the rationale for them and how to implement them in classrooms.”

    Tiffany Green

    Assistant Professor, Department of Population Health Sciences and Obstetrics & Gynecology, UW-Madison

    Take the course now if you want to level up your teaching and have richer, more productive conversations in the classroom. Highly recommend to all instructors, from grad students to full professors.

    Ready to have a discussion?

    Submit your information for a personalized course walk-through with The Discussion Project team to better understand how it can support the growth of your instructors, departments, and institution.

    Schedule a consult today