A great way to encourage group discussions is to have a specified period of time where you casually discuss a topic with the class. You can bring up a currect event, a classroom or school issue, or let your class bring up ideas that they would like to discuss. to make this time special for your kids, have tea and cookies. Or you can just use juice or hot apple cider. Your kids will look forward to this time each week and it will help your class to become a community.