I have always tried to teach with a twist, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that there was a conference for people like me, a TWIST Conference organized annually in Warsaw. I got intrigued by the unusual concept of the event; as the conference organizers put it, TWIST is all about promoting “extraordinary 'ordinary' teachers who take the stage to share their success stories!”
Personally, I tried to contribute to the event with a session on the use of Silent Discussion, my personal teaching success :), a technique especially useful to tackle “difficult” topics in class.
Photo by Małgorzata Warmińska
Silent discussion is a collaborative learning strategy which helps students explore a topic in depth, but most importantly, it allows each student to work at their own pace and engages even the most intimidated students. It first takes form of written self-expression and exchange of ideas, and ultimately turns into a verbal discussion. The instructions need to be very clear: the participants are not allowed to talk for fifteen minutes and the only means of communication among them is a long stretch of big wrapping paper and markers. My session aimed to prove that silence can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. It can open up space for productivity, creativity and cooperation. When held in silence, discussions on even the most controversial topics resonate loud and make a deep impact.
Here is my follow-up article which appeared in the latest issue of The Teacher.