Discussion Builders Workshop: Promote K–8 Student Communication, Reasoning Skills, and Language Development

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Lead discussions that boost collaborative and respectful critical thinking among K–8 students, including English learners, and promote their academic success. Our workshop — on site or at WestEd — will prepare you to implement evidence-based teaching strategies.

Discussion Builders build deep, rigorous discussion among students, and boost their use of academic language. When I was a principal in Stockton, California, I had my entire staff go through two days of training. It made a huge difference in how students engaged in all discussions.”

— Susan Evans, Instructor, California State University Teacher Preparation

Who Will Benefit

  • K–8 Teachers, including teachers of English language learners

What You Will Learn

WestEd’s Discussion Builders Workshop will prepare you to implement immediately evidence-based teaching strategies that foster oral and written academic language, and build powerful communication and reasoning skills among your students.

The one-day workshop is ideal for K–8 teachers interested in helping students with diverse academic, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds participate in, and successfully learn from, discussion-based lessons.

Although originally created for mathematics, the discussion tools and theories can be applied within any subject area and are especially beneficial for English learners.

In this workshop, you will:

  • Learn ways to foster productive discussions in classrooms with diverse learners, with specific guidance for teachers of English learners
  • Think about the role of academic language development in academic success
  • Practice facilitating productive discussions in mathematics, literature, social studies, and other content areas

Service Details


One-day workshop either at your site or at WestEd’s Oakland, CA, office.

What’s Included

Participants receive one poster and a Teaching Guide appropriate to their grade level: K–1, 2–3, or 4–8:

  • Discussion Builders posters that help students of all achievement levels build crucial skills. Sentence stems on the posters provide students with a scaffold for voicing their ideas and questions and valuing others’ contributions. The posters are powerful tools for helping students — including English language learners — present and expand on their ideas. The three levels of posters and teaching guides scaffold progressively more sophisticated language and reasoning across the grades.
  • A quick guide for teachers that explains how to get students talking — and thinking — more conceptually. This Teaching Guide includes tasks and blackline masters for introducing and sustaining the use of Discussion Builders in any subject area.


The workshop, poster, and Teaching Guide cost $350 per participant. Teachers participating in teams of three or more are eligible to attend the workshop, including all materials, for $300 each at WestEd’s Oakland, CA, office. The cost is $4,000 at your site, including all materials, for up to 35 participants.

LEARN MORE > To learn more, please contact Alma Ramirez at aramire@wested.org; and/or visit this Discussion Builders Workshops page.