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Set Ground Rules for Discussion

28 Jun 2019

Read more about this strategy here.

“It definitely made me think more deeply about what specifically I was teaching. It also created more accountability.”


My Context

I am a teaching assistant in a primary school in Inverness. My school has 345 pupils aged 4-12.

What I wanted to improve

Result of speaking to the class teachers and seeing what these pupils are struggling with and what’s holding them back. Parents and pupils too. An ideal pupil - one of the big areas was how they are able to work within a group. All agree that was something they needed to work on.


The strategy that I used was Set Ground Rules for Discussion by Doug Lemov.

What would success look like?

  1. Focussed on topic - pupils will show more focus on a task.
  2. Increased involvement - more confidence in discussion.

How did I approach it?

Weeks 1-2

Children have completed survey and one of the two leaders have filled in survey as well. Discussion with group of children about their focus/listening.

Weeks 3-4

Possible roadblock - one of the teachers has just gone on long term sick. Will observe class myself and fill in, will also ask supply teacher.

Discussions and role play opportunities regarding good and bad listening and group work. Group working tasks and then evaluating own performance. 

Weeks 5-6

I encouraged the children and their teachers to complete a survey of their own listening.group working skills. We discussed what a good listener does and what a bad listener does. We also repeated this exercise for a good and bad group workers. We then did some role play exercises where we took part in scenarios where we listened or worked in a good way or a bad way. We then also did a group activity and reflected on our own group working skills.

Resources and Cost Required

Personal input, time, created a survey, encouragement.


Results and Conclusions

Success criteria

What changed and why?

Focussed on topic - pupils will show more focus on a task.

Some small signs of increase in BM and RB.

This was because more focussed input has been helpful.

Increased involvement - more confidence in discussion.

RB is more willing to take part in discussions. This is because he is more comfortable in class discussion around growth mindset. More focus on differentiation in class. Encouraged by discussions and role play opportunities.

AW knows that he should, knows the answer but in his own words cannot be bothered. He is a long standing problem. Needs more personal input and more joined up thinking,

Overall Rating -

It definitely made me think more deeply about what specifically I was teaching. It also created more accountability as I got the children and the teachers to think about where we started from. It hasn’t solved the problem of every child, but this is not surprising as the problems that each of the children has are varied and because of a variety of different strategies. However, I do feel that they have all gained something from it. I would recommend it to others.

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