2. Organising group discussions

You have introduced your pupils to some ideas about food and nutrition and given them the opportunity to contribute their own ideas during the activities.

However, in talking about healthy living, you also need to encourage them to develop healthy habits, using what they already know. By using discussion you can encourage them to think about their own daily habits and identify ways to improve them.

Possible discussion topics are:

  • exercise;
  • eating as balanced a diet as possible;
  • keeping food safe;
  • keeping clean.

Organising a discussion needs careful planning. Where will the groups work? Who will be in which group? You might want groups where there is a good mix of personalities to help discussions and someone to act as leader.

To encourage pupils to participate, set the groups three or four questions. One or two can be easy to answer – e.g. Name three healthy habits – and the others should encourage pupils to explain their ideas – e.g. Which habit do you think is the most important? Why do you say this?

It is important that they respect other ideas and listen carefully to each other.

Case Study 2: Class discussions about healthy living

Mrs Aketch wanted to develop her pupils’ ideas about healthy living. She decided to organise discussions on a different topic, one a week for three weeks.

For each discussion, she introduced the topic using pictures or stories and asked some simple questions to start them thinking. Then she put them into small groups of four or five to discuss a related topic, e.g. Why do we need to keep as clean as possible?

As the pupils were talking, she would go around listening and sometimes joining in and helping to move discussions on.

After five or ten minutes of group discussion, she asked each group to say what they had talked about and explain their ideas.

Finally, with the pupils, she wrote a list of good practices on the board for them to remember and record. The next day, she asked them to look at the list again and suggest which they thought were most important.

Then, Mrs Aketch gave the pupils next week’s topic and asked them to think about their ideas in advance.

Activity 2: Planning and organising a discussion

With your own class of pupils, how would you organise a group discussion on healthy living?

  • Choose a topic to discuss or make a list for them to choose from. Plan your introduction.
  • Think how they will work – in pairs, groups or as a whole class? Design the task – either discussing the answer to a question or ask your pupils to plan an activity to keep healthy.
  • Prepare your instructions. How will you check that they understand the task?
  • How long will they talk for? 10–15 minutes or more? What will you do while they are talking?
  • At the end of the discussion, ask them for their ideas. Think of questions you might ask to help them. How many people will you ask? Plan how you will summarise their best ideas, perhaps by drawing a mind map. See Key Resource: Using mind maps and brainstorming to explore ideas [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .
  • Discuss with the pupils how they will remember and use these ideas.

Use these questions to plan your lesson on a healthy living topic. After the lesson, ask yourself how well it went and what you would do differently next time to make it more effective.

1. Building on prior knowledge

3. Using local resource people