Teaching Effective Group Discussion

I am a steadfast believer that the best classroom management technique is the creation of a classroom environment were students know how to communicate effectively. You cannot hope to have successful small group or classroom discussions if students do not feel safe to express themselves in a space where they know their ideas, feelings, and opinions will be respected.

Unfortunately, most students do not have effective communication modeled for them not just in their educational past, but at home, with their peers, and in the media. So how can you begin to teach effective group discussion with your students?

The first thing is to have an open dialogue with students about effective and ineffective communication. This dialogue can’t just start once there are issues part way through the school year, but should be explored during the first week of school.

  • Ask students to share past experiences and their feelings surrounding group work, when have they felt that their opinions weren’t respected? Did it affect how much/little they shared? Do they think it affected their learning?
  • Explain that it is possible to disagree with someone, or to give critical feedback, while still respecting the other person’s beliefs and emotions. Remind students that it can be okay to “agree to disagree”, and that part of learning is being able to consider issues from another’s perspective and respecting that they have their own beliefs, without having to give up your own. 
  • As a class, brainstorm some examples of effective and ineffective language. For example: “I disagree with Elliot because…” vs. “No Elliot, you’re so wrong”.
  • Come up with an acronym or other system to remind students of effective group communication. I came up with the TALK method (Trust, Appreciate, Listen, Be Kind).
  • As a class come up with a ‘reminder phrase’ that students can use to take a break and get back on track if they feel discussions are becoming ineffective. For example, “I think we need to take a breather”.

This is just a start, and effective group discussion is a skill that should be touched upon throughout the school year. I am passionate about this topic, and have created a variety of resources that you can use with your students to teach effective group communication.


FREE Effective Group Discussion Interactive Notebook

Use these four interactive notebook components to explore the concept of effective group discussion with students.

The first note allows students to explore how they want to be treated by others in a group discussion, and what they need to give in return. The second has them brainstorm encouraging vs discouraging words when providing feedback to others. In the third note students decide wether statements are an example of effective or ineffective communication, and and in the final note they brainstorm statements they can use to agree, disagree, ask for clarification, and more.


Effective Group Discussion Lesson 

The perfect lesson for the beginning of the school year to introduce effective group discussion. Students learn about effective communication by comparing a group discussion scenario written two different ways. In the first example, the characters do not demonstrate effective communication. Students analyze the passage to see where more effective communication could be used. They then read the second example to see how the discussion could have been improved. For both passages, students reflect on how the discussion would make each character feel.

After this introduction, students brainstorm how they would personally like to be treated during group discussions. This leads to the introduction of the TALK method (Trust, Appreciate, Listen, Be Kind), in the form of a foldable note. Students use the knowledge they have gained to debate a topic in a small group, and reflect on their group dynamics and communication.


Sentence Frames For Effective Group Discussion


Use a sentence frame fan to support clear and respectful student communication during group discussions.

Each category includes five sentence frame prompts. Students can use the sentence frames to create responses that promote effective classroom discussions.


Effective Group Communication Task Cards 

In this activity students read examples and decide whether they demonstrate effective or ineffective communication. This is a great activity to use for SCOOT and to introduce effective group discussion to students.


Effective Group Discussion Bundle 

If you like the sound of all of these resources you can also buy them as a bundle for a discounted price!

How do you promote effective group discussion in your classroom? Let me know in the comments or at lifelonglearning1234@gmail.com


Washi Tape Paperclip Hack For Spinners

Spinners are a great tool to use in the classroom. They make math and language arts activities more fun, and add a dynamic touch to lessons. But give a student a paperclip and it will soon be bent, poking another student, or lost. Washi tape comes to the rescue once again!

Wrap all but the ends of the paperlclips (where the pencil will go) in a bright washi tape. The paperclips are still useable, but can’t be bent and are easy to identify as belonging to a spinner activity.

Make Creative Writing Fun With Writing Prompt Spinners

Are you tired of your students complaining that they don’t have any good ideas for their creative writing journals? Are you tired of printing off one-use writing prompts that may work well, but aren’t handy when you’re in a hurry? Why not try writing prompt spinners during your lessons?

Simply provide students with a spinner and hand out paperclips. Students use their pencil and the paperclip to spin three times. The first spin gives them a character, the second gives them a setting, and the third will gives them a plot element to use in their story. Your students then use their creative license to write a fun story!

For example: a cowboy (spin 1), in a submarine (2), where someone is surprised (3). Might turn into a story about a startled cowboy who is beamed into a submarine full of surprised soldiers to broker an alien peace treaty.

There is a worksheet provided for students to write their stories, or you can choose to have students write their stories in their journals.

If you would like students to have their own personal spinner, a fun extension is to have them color a space once they have spun it. When creating future prompts, if they hit a colored space, they must re-spin. This process continues until the spinner is fully colored in, and eight stories have been written!

This product is a bundle of 8 spinners with the themes of Sci-Fi, Adventure, Fairytale, Science, Mystery, School, Fantasy, and Spooky. They can be purchased individually, however by buying as a bundle you save 50%.

Earth Day Interactive Notebook

Earth Day is just around the corner. It can be challenging to talk to students about the environment in a way that doesn’t discourage them. The lessons I created for this interactive notebook are designed with a variety of activities that help students explore key ideas surrounding how they can help the environment not just on a personal level, but as part of a community.

It includes:

  • A KWL Chart for students to track their learning and questions
  • Two reading passages and fold over responses:
    • Schoolyard Clean-Up: This fictional passage emphasizes the importance of community for helping the environment.
    • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!: non-fiction reading passage discussing the 3 R’s for reducing waste.
  • ‘I Can…’ Foldable Note
  • Reduce Reuse Recycle Foldable Note
  • ‘The Earth Is Everyone’s Home & Everyone’s Responsibility’: foldable note or bullitain board display exploring where positive environmental changes can be made.
  • Teaching guides for each activity and visual foldable instructions.

Solar System Expedition: An Immersive Space Explorers Unit

Welcome to Shuttle One! I hope you’re ready to pin on your badge and take your seat in the Captain’s chair as you and your students explore the solar system.
Space has always been one of my favorite topics to explore. It is such an awe inspiring subject to get students excited about learning, and I had so much fun designing this unit! There is nothing better than students that show up to class excited to learn more, and engaged in the subject material, it is my hope that this unit helps you bring out this passion through an immersive learning experience.

So what makes this unit different from any other? Each day students undertake a reader’s theatre ‘mission’ to learn about a specific planet, and complete a related note in their notebook. Each mission has 5 roles (Commander, Ground Control, Pilot, Copilot, and Science Officer) of different reading levels (noted in the teaching guide for each day). The reading levels do not correspand with the role, and switch every ‘mission’ so that students of all reading levels can feel like an equal part of the mission team! The mission information is supported by a fun related note. 
On the teacher’s side of things, each mission comes with a lesson guide and at least one recommended video incase you would like an additional resource to show students. The immrsive atmosphere is very important to me, so I have included a variety of ideas for creating an immersive classroom, from decorations, playing space scenes on the projector, and providing links to ‘space ship music’ to play while students work.

There is also a selection of supplemental resources you can use at your discretion. These resources include a book list, writing activities, bookmarks, extra foldable notes, and more. 

You can see a full preview and purchase this unit here. Be sure to say hi to any aliens you meet on your journey!


A Spooktacular Halloween Giveaway


I love Halloween! A time for carving pumpkins, spending evenings planning out costume ideas, and eating too many sweet treats shaped like (ew) eyeballs!

This is also a time of year when students are very antsy and distracted in the classroom. Well, if you can’t beat them, join in! Help curb the collective sugar high by meeting their excitement with fun and engaging Halloween themed activities.

I want to make this your best Halloween yet. So I’ve teamed up with 9 amazing teacher-authors to bring you a (cue creepy narration voice) SPOOKTACULAR HALLOWEEN GIVEAWAY. Mwahahahaha.

Well, there’s actually nothing scary about this sweet event! Take a look at the 10 awesome Halloween products below that you could win, in addition to a $50 TPT Gift Card!

Enter using the Rafflecopter at the end of this post. The giveaway opens on October 18th and the winner will be chosen on October 22nd.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Fact and Opinion Scoot
Students reinforce their understanding of fact vs. opinion statements in this fun, fast paced activity. Students scoot from one card to the next as they determine whether the Halloween themed statement is a fact or an opinion.
Halloween Word Wall Words
Post these Halloween word wall words in your classroom to help encourage students with their writing either before or after Halloween as a reflection activity!
Parts Of Speech Silly Sentences
These task cards will have the children laughing and engaging in a fun activity as they practice using parts of speech.
Halloween Math Scavenger Hunt Task Card Bundle
Have some Halloween fun, all while consolidating some math skills with my Halloween Math Scavenger Hunt Task Cards! 3 hidden messages to be found.
Halloween Reading & Writing Activities
These Halloween themed activities include reading, writing and logic puzzlers.  It’s great for a day of excitement to keep your students busy between the costumes and candy.original-1479989-1







Halloween Centers
Have your kids got a case of the Halloween crazies? Engage and excite them with these Halloween Center activities!
Halloween Multiple Intelligence Stations
This resource includes 8 fun and engaging Multiple Intelligence Stations to help students celebrate Halloween. Each station is designed to let their strengths shine.









Frankenstein Activity Pack
This math and literacy pack includes a fun and spooky way to brush up on those tally skills by counting the scars on Frankenstein’s face. It also includes a writing component where students can haunt up your hallway with these Frankenstein page toppers!








Halloween Pattern Pack
This Halloween themed pack is filled with a variety of patterning activities. Centers, printables and more!

These low prep activities are perfect for getting your students into the Halloween mood! Thinking, writing, and creating are a breeze with this pack!original-1483904-1


a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 Spooktacular Halloween Books For Kids

5 Halloween Books

Halloween is a great time to engage reluctant readers with creepy crawly stories, tales of witches and goblins, and dress-up dramas.

Here are some of my favorite Halloween reads to add to your classroom library.

It’s Raining Bats & Frogs
When Delia the witch decides to change the rain… chaos ensues!

The Perfectly Imperfect Pumpkin
A great story about being unique.

I’m Trying To Love Spiders
Informational fun narrated by an arachnophobe!

Little Boo
The story about a little seed that can’t wait to grow up.

The Witches’ Supermarket
What happens when you accidentally wander into a supermarket for witches? A delightfully funny tale…

What are your favorite books to read at Halloween? Let me know in the comments below.

Pumpkin Fact vs. Opinion Scoot


Fall is here in full force! The leaves are turning, pumpkins are out on front stoops, and the classroom is aflutter learning about bats, spiders, leaves, and pumpkins!

One of my favorite fall units is pumpkins! I know many teachers choose to have a pumpkin thematic unit during the fall. Here are just a few of my favorite ideas for things you can do to learn about pumpkins as a class:

  • Hold a class survey to decide what to carve on your class pumpkin. Graph the results.
  • Count the number of seeds in a pumpkin. Compare two different pumpkins.
  • Make hypotheses about which pumpkin is heavier and weigh both to see.
  • Measure the circumfrence of pumpkins.
  • Make a jack-o-lantern mural using orange construction paper and traces of your students hands.
  • Learn about the life cycle of a pumpkin with a First, Next, Then, Last organizer from Nerissa Reddick.
  • Make baked pumpkin seeds for a yummy and healthy snack!
  • Take a class field trip to a pumpkin patch, either in person or by watching a video.

If you are looking for an activity to finish off your unit, try these fact vs. opinion pumpkin themed task cards, perfect for a game of scoot! Dots n Spots explains how she used these task cards on her blog.

original-1458042-1pumpkin fact and opinion scoot




It’s the first day of the new school year, and I shyly shuffle into class clutching my new pencils and a backpack that I don’t yet know where to put. It’s only been two months since I was last in school, but it feels like a lifetime- and there are so many things to worry about. Will the math be hard this year? Is Sara still my friend? Will I have to sit by the bully? What if I answer a question wrong? What if they laugh at me? Will my teacher be nice? What if I don’t belong?

All I want is to feel welcome.

But instead of a “Welcome” that feels like a reassuring presence and makes me excited for this new experience, I hear a terse robotic “Welcome”. One of a string of impersonal greetings to my fellow classmates and I, as we are handed a knowledge-gauging test disguised as a ‘fun’ worksheet, and told to find our designated seat, and sit quietly, sit quietly, sit quietly. 

I didn’t understand the instructions, but am too shy to ask the teacher. I ask my seatmate instead, but am berated for talking out of turn because “respectful communication is important in this classroom”.

I hand my worksheet into the wrong bin, and am publically reprimanded for not reading the sign that says ‘out’. The class laughs. I return to my seat with my face red and my heart pounding in my throat.

We play a getting to know you game. I don’t want to hold hands with these children, but “you need to participate”. By the end of the game I still don’t know anyone’s name, but my palms are sweaty and I want to cry.

The teacher calls me by a nickname I dislike. I correct her, but she continues using it. My classmates have now begun to use this nickname too.

I label my green folder Math and my blue folder Science. “Proper organization is important in this classroom”. I mixed up the colors.

There is a traffic light in the corner. If the class gets too loud it turns yellow. Every time it turns red we lose a minute of recess. I worry that if I cough it will turn red and my classmates will be mad at me, so I hold it in.

We are told that good behavior gets us tickets for a raffle. Sara gets a ticket. I don’t.

I have so many questions.

“I said put your hand down, you can ask questions later”.



I go home.

I wish I didn’t have to return tomorrow.


The first day back is stressful for any teacher. New students, new classroom, maybe a new grade or curriculum. But no matter if you teach Kindergarten or Grade 12, the first day of school is often one of the most intimidating and stressful experiences for students. There is a long to-do list that every teacher has for the first day. Beginning classroom management, setting out rules and procedures, seeing where your students are at academically… But be aware of your language, your demeanor, the energy you create in your classroom.

This is your most stressful day of the school year, consider it is for your students too.



This is a great video if you’d like some more food for thought about how students experience the school environment.

Effective Group DiscussionIf you’d like to talk about effective classroom discussion with your students, consider downloading my free interactive notebook