After you have had a shared experience such as a field trip, a film, or a school visitor, ask students to write brief responses. Then hold a class discussion in which you invite students to share one or two ideas from their writing. Suggest that they choose when to participate by connecting their contributions to ones that have gone before. When you feel the group has completed the discussion, ask them to talk about the importance of connecting their ideas to those suggested by others in the class.
Ask four or five of your active talkers to help you prepare a fishbowl discussion or a training video for the class. Give them a poem or a short story to read and ask them to prepare for discussion by marking things they noticed with sticky notes and writing a list of questions they have about their reading. Ask them to begin their discussion by responding to what they liked or didn't like about their reading while you film. As they continue their discussion, you may need to prompt them with additional open-ended questions, but try to allow them to direct their conversation as independently as possible while the class watches, or while you film for 10 or 15 minutes. Ask the class to pay attention to how the conversation developed. In your debriefing discussion, focus attention as much as possible on effective conversational strategies such as turn-taking, listening, connecting to what others have said, posing questions, and positive body language. Suggest that the students work to incorporate these behaviors into their own discussion processes. You may wish to give students a copy of the Discussion Etiquette Checklist (PDF) to help them monitor their discussion processes.