One way to invigorate classroom discussions and to teach a lesson more effectively is to master techniques for asking and responding to questions that will generate more interest and bring in a broader scope of viewpoints.
Where answers are expected to delve into the whys and wherefores of problems and situations that your students and their peers may encounter - or where you want to open up connections that relate to the antics of characters in the stories or histories that they read and investigate, it's important to allow students to reflect on those goings on and to see them in light of their own experiences.
To encourage this type of deeper, more meaningful sharing, set an example by offering a connection that is meaningful to you, and be careful to make sure that it is appropriate and relatable to the class.
Then, instead of asking, "Has something like this ever happened to you?" that might draw a simple yes or no answer, ask "When has something like this happened to you?" and "What was it?"
Another tactic is to initiate predictions with "What-ifs?" or "What do you think will...?"
Do surveys and polls of students’ answers, and have everyone physically move to polar ends of the room to take counts. Allow volunteers to record tallies on the board, and leave some time for students to discuss the results.
Another tactic is to pair up students sitting beside each other to explain a concept one to the other, one at a time. This type of activity leads to deeper understanding of various topics, like science concepts, since it offers explanations forged from a variety of vocabulary using metaphors that can enhance them. At the same time, this type of activity fosters the aural and oral communication skills and language development that are important to both the academic and social successes of the students.
Which methods have you found to be most effective when trying to engage students to reinforce learning?