Peer discussion and conferencing

Also known as: accountable talk, affinity mapping, chat stations, pinwheel discussion

philosophical chairs, this or that, Socratic circles, concentric circles, negotiated learning, scheduled chat, conver-stations, fish bowl, hot seat, snowball discussion, asynchronous discussion, backchannel discussion, talk moves, teach ok

  • A classroom practice where learners use text and other sources to defend their opinions or challenge the positions taken by others.
  • Students share, discuss and build on the contributions of their peers or collaborative partners through a range of discussion strategies harnessed and modeled by the teacher.
  • Everyone practices explaining connections between the discussion and its learning objectives.
  • Discussion prompts or question stems in the templates trigger higher order thinking skills like synthesis, analysis, evaluation and problem-solving.

Peer discussion and conferencing

ICT templates

Learning activity templates

Office 365

Google G Suite

Make sure you are logged into your Microsoft account or Google account before accessing these templates. For more support refer to Getting started with technology

How to use with ICT

Online technologies are ideal for peer discussion and conferencing using synchronous and asynchronous learning modes. Online interactions can be as immediate as collaborative chat or as extensive as an online local and global partnerships.

Single computer

Skype in the Classroom offers huge possibilities. Students can collaborate with others anywhere in the world or listen and question expert guest speakers across the globe.

External resources

Find out more resources
Title Link Description
DART Connections DART Connections Video conferencing that brings students and teachers face to face with experts across the globe.
International Education & Resource Network (iEARN) International Education & Resource Network (iEARN) iEARN have connected classrooms globally for over two decades using learning circles as a unifying strategy.
Self Organised Learning Environment (SOLE) Self Organised Learning Environment (SOLE) SOLE uses a website and iOS app with a simple educational approach, designed to promote inquiry and foster student self-empowerment. SOLE discussions have 3 phases: asking a big question, investigating and reviewing.
Accountable talk by Naomi Migliacci Accountable talk presentation (PDF) A comprehensive guide to accountable talk strategies and useful language stems.
Accountable talk on the Victoria Education and Training website Accountable talk A Victoria Education and Training guide to accountable talk strategies and developing 'ground rules'.
Accountable talk stems adapted from the Institute for Learning Accountable talk stems Accountable talk stems adapted from the Institute for Learning, 2003.
Parlay Parlay Parlay helps teachers facilitate meaningful and inclusive class discussions. Parlay is a web-based blended learning tool and content library that works in conjunction with face-to-face discussions.
Webjets Webjets Webjets is a flexible collaboration tool, where teachers create an item-based discussion board on their desktop and learners collaborate using a range of formats. Logging into Webjets is free with a Google Education account.
Equity Maps Equity Maps Equity Maps is a discussion monitor app for Apple iOS devices. Equity Maps show who is participating and how often. The app can be mirrored from an iPad to make an in-class peer discussion digital, visually recording which students participate and how long they talk.
The Global Read Aloud (GRA) The Global Read Aloud (GRA) The GRA project started in 2010, trying to connect one book to a world audience. GRA now enjoys global collaboration with participation by millions of students worldwide. GRA requires a connection to the internet using any browser or device.
Yo Teach Yo Teach Yo Teach is for creating online backchannel chat rooms. Teachers can set a password and students join with the URL and a unique PIN. Admin features include privacy settings and moderation of users. Students are even able to draw on a ‘scratchboard’ that can display in the backchannel.


Links to third-party websites:

If you use the links provided on this website to access a third party’s website, you acknowledge that the terms of use, including licence terms set out on the third party’s website apply to the use which may be made of the materials on that third party’s website or where permitted by the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).

The department accepts no responsibility for content on third-party websites.

Personalised learning

Disability, Learning and Support

When planning to use technology in the classroom it is important to consider the diversity of your learners. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework to guide the design of learning environments that are accessible and effective for all. For UDL guidelines, information and additional materials, visit the CAST website.

Many students require technology as an adjustment to support their access to learning. Adjustments (NESA) are actions taken that enable a student with disability and additional learning needs to access syllabus outcomes and content on the same basis as their peers. Enrol in the Personalised learning with technology online course to help you make more informed decisions regarding technology.


For a range of simple, how-to videos visit the Assistive Technology page on the Disability, Learning and Support website. Resources are organised into four sections; Literacy and Learning, Vision, Hearing, Physical and Motor Skills.


High potential and gifted learning and support

When planning to use technology in the classroom it is important to consider the full range of abilities of all learners. High potential and gifted learners may require additional adjustments and deliberate talent development.  These strategies include differentiation, grouping, enrichment and advanced learning pathways so students can be engaged, grow and achieve their personal best.


Assessing and identifying high potential and gifted learners will help teachers decide which students may benefit from extension and additional challenge. Effective strategies and contributors to achievement for high potential and gifted learners helps teachers to identify and target areas for growth and improvement. School leaders can access the Evaluation and Planning Tool to support strategic improvement planning.


Recognising the diversity of high potential and gifted students represented in classrooms across 4 domains of potential can be explored further by accessing illustrations of practice.


For further support and advice about how to tailor learning for high potential and gifted students from all backgrounds, visit the High Potential and Gifted Education web section, High Potential and Gifted Education Policy or attend one of the professional learning courses on offer.

Learn more about the strategy

Professional learning

Professional learning (internal)
Provider Course name Link Description
NSW DoE Connecting beyond the classroom Read the article A research paper that outlines a framework for using peer conferencing technology to create a globally connected classroom.
DART Connections Free PD for teachers Browse excursions DART uses peer conferencing technology to conduct virtual excursions and provide both students and teachers with expanded opportunities for learning.