U1 Day 1-2: PD Discussion Topic

I will use the discussion board capability in my online learning environment, since my course is online.

I will spend the first week creating community in the classroom and have my students work on a group project in a nonthreatening way. During the discussion I plan to have my students journal, think pair share, and final share in to the class. By having my students journal I believe I will give them time to gather their thoughts before they share with others.

I am situated in a computer lab also. My computers are arranged in a U shape. Are yours? If the students turn their chairs to face the center of the room, they could facilitate an inner and outer circle as suggested in the reading example.

I was thankful to have the three suggested ways to generate discussion in the classroom as that has never been one of my stronger points (or I just didn’t feel comfortable in that I was “doing it right”). I like the idea of have the students think for themselves first and then share with elbow partners, and then open it up for sharing with the class as a whole.

I try to create an environment where the student feels like their are no wrong answers and as we progress try to reiterate this point.

I have students look up the definition, then think about what the definition is saying and ask them what items might apply to the definition.

I like the method we used in class where we wrote down everything that was a computer on post it notes and then organized those in groups. It was individual, group, and whole class discussion.

Rotate elbow partners so students get the opportunity to work with many classmates, which helps create community and trust in the classroom. (Originally written for CS Teaching Tips)


  • Students experience communicating with a lot of their peers to develop a classroom community that promotes problem solving and trust.
  • The ECS curriculum often starts a lesson with journaling and then sharing out with elbow partners. This can get old since students regularly sit next to the same people.
    • Also, if students are only told to talk to their elbow partners, they only build relationships with one or two students. This is no way to build a community.
  • Students need constant re-energizing! Moving them around the room to share ideas is a great way to keep energy up.
  • Teachers need to shake up groupings of students on a regular basis because every teaching technique and strategy loses its value over time.
  • Use sliding groups for a variety of loose discussion formats.
    • This strategy involves "sliding" the structure of the classroom up and down levels of interaction from 1) individuals reflecting on a topic, 2) to pairs sharing their reflections, 3) to four-person groups synthesizing their concerns, 4) to general class discussion,and then back down the chain whenever one format stops eliciting productive discussion.
    • Keep your eyes open for students who don’t naturally get into groups.
      • Make it clear that it’s impossible to be successful if you’re always working alone. These students may just need extra help getting into the collaboration spirit.
      • Problem solving is a key component in computer science and these students need to let down their guard and engage with others.
  • Examples for making groups instead of elbow partners:
    • Color Cards: Give students different colored 3X5 index cards by handing them out or leaving them on desks or seats. All students with the same color card become a group. This strategy is an easy way to form random groups quickly.
      • Add on: Put different attributes (shape, number, letter and picture) on each colored card. This gives you many options for setting up groups (e.g., a group of four with the same picture, a group of five with all different shapes, a group with the same number or a group with all different numbers).
    • Clock appointments: Students draw a clock on a paper (example 1, example 2) and make spaces next to the face numbers to make “appointments” with other students. To fill the appointments, students walk around the room and write each others names into the appointment slots, usually next to 3, 6, 9 and 12 but you could use all 12 spaces. Example: If I’m partnering with you at 12, I write my name on your page at 12, and you write your name on my page at 12.
      • Throughout the lesson, week or month, as you want students to partner up, you announce that they need to find their “3 o’clock partner.”
      • This keeps feelings from being hurt, time being wasted, and allows you to quickly change up who students are working with.
    • Change up the seating chart in the room on a regular basis so students work and program with their constantly changing neighbors.
      • This allows you to continue using the elbow partner technique because students pairs will change frequently.
    • For more ideas, check out other pair programming CS Teachings Tips.
    Additional Resources for Pairing up Students

A safe environment needs to be created for outloud discussions. For other types of discussions I use an electronic discussion board to record and share so that students can look back at the discussions later.

Our school classes are on a block schedule. Each class meets every other day. Most of the AP lessons are designed for classes meeting every day. Suggestions for combining lessons?

  • List item

I plan to ask open - ended questions; ask follow up questions, create a safe environment where students feel free to share, invite multiple perspectives on a topic or questions, use sentence starters, and have the students to reflect on the topic of discussion in their journals.

Yes, that is it a good idea, it will get students walking around and discussing the topic with their peers. That can also post it without putting their names on them so they don’t have to fear ridicule.

You can also use photos of computer examples and non computer examples and have student attach their photo on a poster board labeled computer---- non computer. Or if you have a smart board you can create a game with the photos.

I plan on using Journals to help the students understand to many components that will go into the lesson.

I plan to make sure that students feel like their voice matters by setting guidelines for group discussions. Also, I will implement journaling for self-reflection, elbow partners for small peer interaction, and open class discussions, either teacher- or student-led, so students have an opportunity to share their ideas and discuss in a large group forum.

I will start off by asking the question and writing it down in their journal. They will then share with their elbow partner and then with the group. I loved the idea of the posting it to the poster of items that are computers, are not computers and the questioning ones. Once they do this then we discuss this a class, that way everyone has a voice whether it be in partners, or in a group or in front of the class.

Creating a safe environment where everyone feels the ability to discuss and share. A good way to facilitate this lesson is to start with a discussion and create a list on the board. Begin to develop the idea of what a computer is. Show a quick video after a final list is compiled. There are no wrong answers.

I planning on having students working in groups of four. I will write on the board what is a computer? I will than let the students come up with their own idea of what a computer is. (Think- Pair- Share) students will also journal what ideas that they have come up with. I will then discuss what a computer really is. I will have computer presentation for my students along with a group activity.

One technique I like to use is the discussion board within Google Classroom. Granted there will always be some students that will post silly responses, but usually the majority of the class enjoys the DQ’s I do in class and will then help to moderate the students who like to be silly.

I like to allow students to volunteer answers, especially at the beginning of the class. I like to give positive feedback even when a student gives an answer that is not heading in the direction of the discussion. I try to harbor a feeling of safety for all students to answer. I insert comments or questions when needed to keep the conversation going.