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Coming this summer: Meaningful talk in the classroom!

The new TEKS ask us to get our students talking, but how are we going to do that?

You’ve probably heard the research. Students talk time in today’s classroom is almost microscopic. Teacher talk still dominates, and when students do talk, it’s mostly surface level. The new TEKS put speaking and listening on the same ground as reading and writing. Academic oracy across disciplines is the ultimate goal. And if you’re looking at the Visible Learning research, you know student discussion is a highly effective instructional element.

So what do we do?

We must go beyond Turn-and-Talk

Turn-and-Talk and Think-Pair-Share have their places. They get students used to talking. They may even help them brainstorm, process, and collaborate. But they are not enough. They are only the beginning. If you do have these as part of your instructional plans, keep them, but don’t stop with them.

We must set up lessons that get students engaged in academic conversations.

Students need to be able to:

· Elaborate and clarify

· Support ideas with examples

· Paraphrase

· Build on and /or challenge ideas

· Synthesize

If you want to know more about any of those and how to help students get there, I recommend checking out Academic Conversations by Jeff Zwiers and Marie Crawford (2011).

But beyond the strategies you’ll find in that text, we need to be able to create lessons that necessitate student talking and listening. Speaking and listening must be integral to getting the job done.

Each week this summer I’ll take a look at different instructional elements that do just that. For example, we’ll take a look at the reciprocal teaching protocol. How can you use it to get students talking and listening? How do we also have students reading and writing every day? How do we keep them thinking?

If you have any special requests, let me know. I will be happy to explore as many instructional elements as possible over the span of the summer and beyond.

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