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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Reaching a consensus

Oral language, Reading, Thinking and Metacognitive Strategies: Reaching a consensus:

ESOL Principles:

Most strategies can be used to support all seven of the ESOL principles dependent upon how the teacher decides to use the strategy within their teaching and learning planning cycle. This strategy is usually used to support:

Principle 3: Maintain and make explicit the same learning outcomes for all the learners. How can I make the lesson comprehensible to all students? How can I plan the learning tasks so that all the students are actively involved? Do my students understand the learning outcomes?

Principle 4: Begin with context embedded tasks which make the abstract concrete. How can I put these concepts into a concrete context?

Principle 5: Provide multiple opportunities for authentic language use with a focus on students using academic language. Is the language focus on key language? Do I make sure the students have many opportunities to notice and use new language?

Principle 6: Ensure a balance between receptive and productive language. Are the students using both productive (speaking, writing) and receptive (listening, reading) language in this lesson?


Reaching a consensus :

This activity enables a group of students to reach a consensus on a theme or idea proposed by the teacher. For the first three minutes all students jot down their ideas. The teacher circulates and helps students who are struggling by providing vocabulary and language phrases as appropriate. The group members then share their ideas in a Round-Robin format. As students listen to each other's ideas, they silently note which one they most agree with. In a second Round-Robin, students each express their preferences, again without being interrupted. Finally, a timed discussion ensues. While during the discussion not everybody will participate in equal ways, at least the structure assures that all students will have contributed their opinions and preferences to the solution of the problem.

Students benefit as they practice their listening and speaking, they all have a turn and the thinking time allows English language learners to rehearse their responses and have more time for thinking deeply and to make connections. See also Consensus.

video icon Secondary level: Making Language and Learning Work DVD 2 - Year 11, English

Teaching and learning sequence planning examples:

Primary level:

Secondary level:

Some possible Teacher Inquiry questions:

  • As you circulate, what ideas are your students having difficulty expressing in English? How can you scaffold your students to be able to contribute their ideas?
  • As you listen, are your English language learners expressing themselves more fluently in the second or third round of the discussion?
  • Do your students need help in knowing how to participate in a discussion? (E.g. negotiating and turn taking etc.)Or do I need to teach this first?
  • What language do my students need to know before participating in the Reaching a Consensus? (E.g. genre structure, question formation, demonstratives, modality, evaluative language, etc.)


Useful websites:

Published on: 09 Aug 2012