While reading David Francis’ book, The Discover Triad, he highlighted a tool developed by Brookfield and Preskill called conversational moves.* This tool has become an easy way to get conferees and students engaged in the lessons or presentations. The goal is to help students develop participation skills by building on the conversation or adding something new to the conversation that is being discussed.
David describes it this way in his book.
The leader randomly distributes three-by-five inch cards to each member of the class, who is to practice the move indicated on the card they received sometime during the discussion. The teacher emphasizes to the students that these moves are designed to reinforce connections among the members of the group. Here is a partial list of the conversational moves:
• Ask a question or make a comment that shows you are interested in what another person has said.
• Ask a question or make a comment that encourages someone else to elaborate on something that person has said.
• Make a comment that underscores the link between two people’s contributions. Make this link explicit in your comment.
• Use body language (in a slightly exaggerated way) to show interest in what different speakers are saying.
• Make a comment indicating that you found another person’s ideas interesting or useful. Be specific as to why this was the case.
• Contribute something that builds on or springs from what someone else has said. Be explicit about the way you are building on the other person’s thoughts.
• Make a comment that at least partly paraphrases a point someone has already made.
• At an appropriate moment, ask the group for a minute’s silence to slow the pace of conversation and give you and others time to think.
• Find a way to express appreciation for the enlightenment you have gained from the discussion. Try to be specific about what it was that helped you understand something better.
• Disagree with someone in a respectful and constructive way.
Try it. I dare you.
*David Francis, The Discover Triad (Nashville: Lifeway Press, 2008)
*Stephen D. Brookfield and Stephen Preskill, Discussion as a Way of Teaching (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999)
Mark Miller is the State Sunday School Director for the Tennessee Baptist Convention