As outlined in the Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards, discussion hold importance because students are expected to learn, practice, and ultimately refine the elements of speaking, listening, and argumentation as they:

  • comprehend and consider the ideas of others,
  • collaborate with peers, and
  • present knowledge and their own ideas with conviction, authority, and clarity.

Moreover, discussions serve as a powerful tool for equity and support because student thinking is shared and considered by all. As you analyze assignments that include evidence of discussion, consider both the structure and the content of these interactions.

Guiding Questions

  • When do my students have the opportunity to participate in rich, structured conversations with their peers? As part of a whole class? In small groups?
  • When and how do I include time for extended discussion assignments?
  • How can I intentionally connect reading, writing, and discussion?

Questions for Analysis


How is discussion incorporated into this assignment?

  1. No evidence of discussion in this assignment

  2. The assignment includes cues/moments for informal and/or brief discussion.

  3. The assignment includes cues/significant time for formal and/or extended discussion.

  • Use the assignment directions to guide your analysis. Focus on the discussion structure (brief/informal or

  • Examples of informal and/or brief discussion: Students are required to "turn and talk" or “pair-share” work with a partner or collaborative group.

  • Examples of formal and/or extended discussion: Socratic seminars, debates, and literature circles or discussions.

What is the central purpose of the discussion within the assignment?

  1. No evidence of discussion in the assignment
  2. The central purpose is to clarify the tasks or manage the logistics within the assignment (e.g., students discuss the plan for the assignment, students talk with a partner if they need help/clarification)

  3. The central purpose aligns with a Speaking and Listening Standard and is anchored by course content and/or a text (e.g., students contribute accurate and relevant information, students present knowledge and ideas from a text using evidence and a clear line of reasoning, students consider and evaluate the ideas of others)

  • Use the assignment directions to guide your analysis. Focus on the discussion purpose and content (managing logistics or aligned with Common Core for Speaking and Listening).