Group discussions

Group discussion and interaction are important strategies which can support work on collaboration done in school.

In addition, where there is a large quantity of information to pass on to pupils during the session, different groups can be given different parts of the information. Pupils are empowered by becoming ‘experts’ on knowledge that only their group is given.

When planning any group-based discussion activity, it is important to give pupils ownership of and a stake in the discussion.

This may involve listening and reporting back on other group members’ contribution rather than their own or electing a spokesperson who is tasked with representing the views/ideas of all group members.

One way to help groups structure their ideas about an artefact, artwork or archive material may be to give them a ‘what we know, what we’d like to know’ sheet.


  • Rather than the traditional ‘hands up’, children are asked to consider a problem or an issue individually
  • Children then tell their ideas to a partner
  • The pair then join another pair to discuss the problem or issue
  • Alternatively, one member of the pair feeds back on their partner’s ideas to a larger group or the class


  • Children are given an initial task – it is important that every member of these initial groups knows that they will be responsible for sharing their ideas with other groups later
  • When the children have completed their initial group task, each member of a group is given a colour
  • They form new groups according to their colours
  • Children then compare findings or discuss what they have achieved with their colour group


  • Organise the class into groups of equal numbers
  • Number each child in the group 1, 2, 3 or 4
  • Assign each child with the same number to one area to investigate an issue (i.e. all the numbers 1s together). They will become the ‘experts’ in this issue, so will all need to take notes
  • Children then re-form into their original group and report back.


  • Children are organised in pairs to discuss or investigate an issue.
  • The pairs then join another pair to form a group and share their findings.
  • The small groups then join together to make a larger group.


  • When a group has completed its initial discussion, one member of the group is sent out as an envoy to another group
  • Envoys are expected to share ideas from their original group with their new group and listen to their new group’s ideas
  • The envoys may move on to a second group
  • The envoys return to their original groups toexplain and share the ideas they have gathered from other groups they have visited.
  • The original groups will also have new information to share from other envoys

One / some / all / none

  • Children are given a set of statements and a group of artefacts.
  • Each statement starts with similar words to ‘This object might be…’
  • Taking one statement at a time, the group discuss and decide on whether the statement fits one, some, all or none of the artefacts.
  • Before moving on to the next statement, they should justify their decision. As long as a reason can be given, there are no ‘wrong’ answers.