New discussion techniques are being integrated into the classroom by a Laramie High School English teacher in order to create greater participation amongst students.

LHS teacher Chris Sherwood brings a more interactive discussion technique into the classroom through creating a wider variety of topic points to associate with.

Sherwood sets up the discussion with strings along the floor, separating his classroom into multiple parts.

“I wanted to try to figure out a new way to have discussions in class as opposed to either me just asking kids questions and circling everyone up for a Socratic discussion,” Sherwood said. “I wanted to try to make it a little more interactive and get kids out of the neutral zone.”

The discussion helps students create a more individualistic view with the multiple amounts of arguments on a single topic. Creating a spectrum form of discussion has allowed students to have a more personalized view on the topics, even if the topic is challenging to pick a side on for any students.

“At least kids have to have some sort of thought before they step on some piece of yarn on some side of an issue,” Sherwood said.

The spectrum technique helps Sherwood’s classroom have a more successful discussion of the questions asked of them. Even simple questions can be taken into a deeper understanding of a student’s views on the topic and why they have come to that decision.

“We’ve discussed everything from school spirit to what makes a good person to meaning of life,” Sherwood said. “I try to pick a lot of topics that don’t necessarily have a lot of right answers.”

The class discussions have only been used once, but they have been shown to increase class participation, helping further a class’ ability of reasoning and individual thinking. Mr. Sherwood plans on incorporating more discussion topics into the classroom based on both current curriculum and varying topics of questions.

Part of the discussion also includes students explaining their view on the topic and trying to reason with others why they chose their specific argument, helping reinforce their decision as well as attempting to sway others into believing like them.

“People start sharing their ideas and their beliefs about whatever topic or statement that they’re given,” Sherwood said. “Even kids that are on the fence or are not necessarily sure start moving as their views start to change. Everything can be challenged and everything can be reinforced.”

The new techniques have not come without some conflict from students and faculty due to the multiple items on the floor.

“There’s always some sort of conflict when you get things on the floor.” Sherwood said. “It can be mistaken for trash …. There’s always some comments that get made that about how maybe my floor isn’t as clean as some people like.”