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Harvard Graduate School of Education

Learning Through Discussion and Disagreement

Oct 21—Nov 3, 2019
USD 149

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Learning Through Discussion and Disagreement provides strategies for encouraging discussion and debate in the classroom.


Most teachers know that discussions can catalyze student understanding but discussions don’t always happen the way we hope they would. Why are classroom discussions often so challenging? What can teachers do to improve them? What do we know about why they matter?

Based upon the research of HGSE Professor Catherine Snow, one of the world’s leading experts on language and literacy, Learning Through Discussion and Disagreement begins by revealing what classroom discussion is and isn’t and defining what makes a classroom discussion successful. Professor Snow then provides research evidence for the value of classroom discussion and explains why it can be so effective—and why there is too little of it in most classrooms. Finally, participants will explore strategies for getting started and make plans to engage their students in the classroom.

Program Details

This two-week online workshop includes a mix of self-paced learning, group discussion, and job-embedded application. Activities include:

  • Video lectures from Professor Catherine Snow
  • Research summaries and assigned readings
  • Self-assessment and reflection prompts
  • Facilitated cohort discussions
  • Job-embedded practice where you will apply the concepts and techniques learned

A core part of the HGSE experience is cohort learning, and this curriculum is designed to create a community of practice for participants to learn with and from each other.

The online workshop will require a total of 5-7 hours of work. Participants who complete all individual assessments and contribute to group discussions will receive a certificate indicating completion of five clock hours of instruction.

Note: all content is self-paced, including group discussions. Facilitators will moderate discussion boards throughout the two-week program.


  • Understand the research about classroom discussion and debate
  • Understand the role of classroom discussion in building robust understanding, while learning why it can be so challenging
  • Apply new strategies to improve and enhance classroom discussion and debate

Who should attend

  • K-12 Teachers
  • Instructional Coaches


Catherine Snow is an expert on language and literacy development in children, focusing on how oral language skills are acquired and how they relate to literacy outcomes. Her current research activities include a study of how Boston Public School early childhood classrooms are supporting children'...

Next dates

Oct 21—Nov 3, 2019
USD 149

How it works

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