Preparing students for the future.
The Case for Discussions
Society is polarizing.
Functioning democracy depends on our collective willingness to seek truth and understand complex issues from many different viewpoints.
Individuals and communities with different perspectives are increasingly isolated in echo chambers. Constructive and informed dialogue is deteriorating, and society is polarizing as a result.
Discussions teach compromise.
Since antiquity, humans have understood the power of open dialogue and compromise (in place of violence) as the preferred path towards justice and prosperity.
It is imperative that we encourage the next generation to listen, empathize, reflect and compromise. We must to teach them to have meaningful and open-minded conversations before they head out into the world.
Robots are replacing people.
We are in the middle of a technological revolution. Half of the jobs that exist today will be gone or automated in the next decade.
In response, we must help the next generation develop a new set of skills and dispositions. They must practice and refine these capabilities as they go through school, so they are prepared to adapt and thrive in the fast-paced future.
Discussions teach future skills.
Student-driven discussions help develop critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills. They encourage students to connect learning to their own lives, and to the events and ideas shaping our world. Finally, discussions teach students to connect ideas and construct new knowledge across disciplines.
The Challenges of Discussion
Discussions are non-inclusive.
A handful of students often dominate discussions, while others don’t feel comfortable participating. When critical learning experiences don’t include everyone, the gap between the strongest students and everyone else grows over time. Moreover, important and unique perspectives are missed and everyone loses out as a result.
Discussions are hard to measure.
Who participated? Was it quality? What was the nature of the contribution? Accountability and assessment are challenging but still necessary in collaborative learning activities. Discussion is difficult to measure and time consuming/unreliable to assess.
The Parlay Approach
Parlay helps teachers facilitate meaningful, measurable and inclusive discussions. Here’s what that means to us:
1. Encourage deep thinking and authentic communication.
2. Teach students to give and receive constructive feedback.
3. Make school feel “relevant” and connected to the real world.
1. Provide reliable and actionable insights into student engagement.
2. Help students understand their own participation and how to improve.
3. Save teachers time & effort when planning and assessing discussions.
1. Every student has the opportunity to participate and contribute.
2. Students feel comfortable and eager exploring diverse ideas.
3. Students demonstrate positivity and compassion when engaging peers.
Parlay achieves this with a “flipped discussion” approach.
Our growing library of discussion provocations, multi-media content and higher order thinking questions for a range of subject areas, topics and levels.
A collaborative online discussion module that encourages students to develop and publish their own ideas and provide constructive peer feedback.
An interactive discussion activity that takes place in a live class setting. A great way to give all students a chance to contribute and measure participation in real time.