Creative Discussion using Plain Pair Groups

Creative Discussion – a key to insight and change

William Plain
Emeritus Professor, Nagoya University of Foreign Studies

Plain Pair Group Teaching (Plain PGT)
- for universities and schools
Plain Pair Group Discussion (Plain PGD)
- for decision making and staff development
- for informal or community creative discussion

A flash of insight is the spark of cosmic intelligence.
Small group sharing of insight can change the pattern of human intelligence.

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Classroom Management

‘Plain PGT’: a teaching method for awareness

A method for communication

Within a simple format, the Plain PGT method can bring a communicative element to traditional lectures, second language teaching in universities or schools, teacher development or discussion groups. Each class consists of teacher presentation of material, discussion of one section with a member of a neighbouring ‘pair group’, and presentation to one’s own group.

A rationale for groups

Each teacher needs to become conscious of the principles underlying their choice of method. The capacity of the Japanese student to function efficiently within a group can be a useful basis for improving communication in the classroom.

Group dynamics

An even number of mixed groups are formed which remain the same during the course. A clear, repetitive lesson plan allows the students to establish their own rhythm and take control of their own learning. The group is the centre of interaction and is an important factor in classroom management to facilitate co-operative learning and dynamic interaction.

Focus on materials

A wide range of materials can be taught through this method, as well as teaching though lecture format or training and development seminars. The material is divided up among the members of each group, possibly in the previous class, allowing for preparation at home.

Introduction and presentation of material

An introductory activity can be used to create a second language environment or orient students towards the topic for the class. The teacher then presents the text or ideas to the class, in a manner chosen according to what is being studied and the aim of the teacher.

Cross-group pairs

After teacher presentation of the material, each student sits with a member of the nearby Pair Group and discusses one section of the material. This cross-group contact creates a more dynamic classroom and enhances communication and understanding.

Small cross-groups

Alternatively, in content classes or teacher development seminars, all those doing the same section can move to sit together in small groups. This system provides a dynamic interaction where each person hears the views of all participants present.

Student presentation

After a defined time students return to their groups and in turn each presents their section of the material. This will often become a period of animated discussion.

Group or individual report

Students are then asked to produce a written task that demonstrates their understanding of the material. Finally, the following week’s material is divided into sections for homework.

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Recognition and remuneration


© William Plain  1990-2016 (print) 2005 - 2016 (website)