Easy Ways to Get your Students Talking and Thinking
It’s the first week of school and our classrooms are buzzing with excitement and purposeful student talk. Getting students talking and processing what they are learning is a great way to boost academic achievement and student engagement. In fact, when we asked students what they valued most about their favorite teachers many of them mentioned that these teachers provided time for them to talk with peers about the content in class. Here are some tips to support instructional dialogue in the classroom:
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Remember the 10 and 2 Rule
For every ten minutes of content you deliver students need two minutes to process and talk about what they heard and synthesize the learning. Some teachers plan these talk breaks into their slides in PowerPoint or Google Slides, while others ensure that students are seated next to a processing partner.
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Provide Sentence Frames
All of our students can benefit from sentence frames to help them with an entry point into academic conversations. This chart below from Content-Area Conversations: How to Plan Discussion-Based Lessons for Diverse Language Learners by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Carol Rothenberg can be a great tool for supporting more in-depth conversations in the classrooms.
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Embed Movement into your Talk Breaks
Standing up and processing with someone can make all of the difference in your student’s level of engagement. One simple strategy for making this happen is a simple Stand Up, Pair. Students stand up and pair up with someone who has the same color on as them or someone who is a similar height. Once they’ve share with their partner they can pair up with another group to share the highlights of their conversation. After a science lab, a teacher may ask students to stand up and pair up with someone from another lab group and talk about observations they made. In physical education a teacher may go over the rules or the sport or game being played and then have students stand up and pair up to share one or two of the most important points. It is important to let students know that they’ll be asked to talk with someone because it may change how they will engage in listening to the content.
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Everyone Does Everything
Master teachers use routines that require participation from all class members. In other words, everyone does everything. One such routine is a strategy I learned from Summarization in Any Subject: 50 Techniques to Improve Student Learning, by Rick Wormeli, is called Partner A/Partner B. The teacher provides some instruction, a demonstration or students may watch a movie clip. Then partner A summarizes the information they heard in one minute. Partner B then has one minute to add anything that partner A might have forgotten. This routine asks every student to be engaged in listening, summarizing and sharing their thinking. Compare this to a traditional classroom discussion in which only three or four students might share their thinking and you will see the power of total participation routines.
This post brought to you by Heather Willman, APOSA overseeing Secondary Curriculum and Instructional Coaching
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