Here is a sample discussion question format for middle school.
• Watch this video. Write a one-paragraph summary.
• Read this article. What real-life situation can apply to . Draw up the situation and either post your image or type your answer.
• Do a hands-on project. Show your work! Analyze the results for cause and effect.
Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction include the idea that teachers should
engage in weekly and monthly review. Discussion questions offer a perfect
opportunity to use the “Last week, last month, term” format. That way, no
matter which item students choose, they’re engaged in retrieval practice.
In addition, Kirschner and Hendrick point out that “depth of processing,”
asking students to elaborate on a concept, noting how it is the same and
different from another concept, aids in retention. Using discussion question
formats to review concepts in a slightly different viewpoint from the way
they were taught last week, last month, or last term helps students remember
information better by providing desirable difficulties. Even better, find a news
article or video that applies the concept in everyday life, and ask students to
paraphrase or summarize before applying it to their own lives.
In The Writing Revolution, Hochman and Wexler begin with sentence-level
activities like asking students to write the four types of sentences (question,
statement, exclamation, command) using a given vocabulary word or set of
vocabulary words. These types of exercises lend themselves beautifully to
writing across the curriculum. One of my favorites for
reinforcing math vocabulary is to use the famous “because, but, so” with a
sentence stem like “When multiplying decimals, students should count the
number of places behind the decimal because . . .” Then change “because” to
“but,” and then change it again to “so.”
In the same vein, Beck, McKeown, and Kucan offer a series of excellent stems
on page 91 of Bringing Words to Life. In addition, the appendix in Bringing
Words to Life has three separate variations for using writing to reinforce