I have tried to increase student talk in my classroom since August. Here was my original sequence: the students would work on a group problem/task and one group would go to the white board to present. While the group prepared their materials on the board, the rest of my class had downtime. Unfortunately, the couple seconds of downtime allowed what should have been my constructive audience to get sidetracked and talk about irrelevant topics, which undermined the benefits of a group presentation. Another problem with my initial approach was that only one group presented: there was minimal discussion about various ways to solve problems or think about math.
Over the past month, I have tried a new approach to group presentations. In the last minute before it’s time to present, I give each group an individual whiteboard/piece of chart paper. Then each group presents to the rest of class. Two main benefits resulted from this approach. First, there is no more down time to distract students. Everyone is creating a presentation, and then we are on to presenting. Second, there are multiple ways, both correct and incorrect, to complete a problem at the front of class. Now, my class can compare different methods, which helps increase the discussion within the room.