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R4 Digital Dialogue

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The World Cafe Method

Dining on dialogue

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when content or concepts are taught in the classroom, there isn’t one “best practice” that really helps students review what they have learned. This brings me to The World Café Method. 

The World Café is a methodology where students or adults can discuss an issue deeply and thoroughly, be exposed to varying viewpoints, and discover new insights about the topic. Here’s how it works: A larger group is subdivided into smaller groups, which sit in separate seating areas where different questions about aspects of the same topic are discussed. After about 20 minutes of dialogue, participants leave the first conversation and join a different group to discuss the topic of the next question. This continues for as many rounds as there is time or topic questions. 




The last activity is a whole-group discussion about insights, breakthroughs, or deepened understandings from the “café” talk. The “harvest” of ideas is captured and recorded in text, graphics, and colors by a volunteer. This last step is vital and provides the whole group the opportunity to benefit from the ideas shared in the small group dialogue. 


Naturally, this takes planning. Questions, logistics, timing, etc. will all have to be addressed. You might even need to practice having your students move from group to group in an orderly manner. This method may seem best for secondary students or even adult learners, but I think it would work with younger students with some modifications to the approach. Be sure to read through seven key World Café design principles before you integrate this into your lesson design.
This may be just the (meal) ticket for students to clarify misconceptions and learn to better articulate their understanding of a concepts or content. I think I just heard a teacher call for the check; check for understanding, that is!
How-to videos/links
Examples/suggested uses for classroom teachers
  • Test preparation – Students can discuss topics on which they need additional help.
  • Flexible grouping strategy – ensuring participation through a low risk environment and topic choices
  • Provides evidence of concept mastery and reveals targets for elaboration or re-teaching
Other useful information

The World Café Method Tech Byte.pdf

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