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Talking In The Classroom
September 28, 2014

Talking in The Classroom

Professional Development

Think about a training you attended recently.

After 20, 30, 40 minutes of listening to the trainer talk – what happens in the audience?

Everyone starts talking, right?

It’s the same with students!

After 5, 10, 15 minutes of listening to the teacher talk – what happens to the kids?

Everyone starts talking, right?

This happens because in order to process new information, make connections and solidify learning people need to talk about it.

Our students aren’t being disrespectful, rude or off-topic.

They are trying to process new information!

Who Needs to Talk

Any student who is growing, working on, and trying to master academic language needs to practice communicating.

This may, or may not, be students who speak a second language at home.

This can be any student who struggles with communication skills.

How are we helping our learners become fluent in reading, writing, speaking and listening?

Planning for Talking

When thinking about planning lessons we need to consider:
  • What strategies can we plan to get all students talking?
  • What strategies will scaffold our reluctant talkers into the discussion?

Procedures for Talking

There are many procedures that need to be explicitly taught to have productive discussions.

A big help is to provide and use Accountable Talk cards in lessons.

Teaching the procedure of using the cards to help the discussion flow will help all students feel successful in discussions.

The biggest procedure to remember is to watch the discussions, and wrap them up once there’s a lull in the discussion and the students are finished talking.

Allowing too short or too long can impact how effective the talk is.

Everyone Talks

Those that do the most talking do the most learning.

I'm going to say it again because it's so important.

Those that do the most talking do the most learning.

How can we offer more opportunities for our learners to talk and discuss within lessons?

One strategy is “Think, Pair, and Share”.

The students reflect on a question, and then they partner up to discuss their ideas. Finally, samplings of ideas are shared whole group.

In this process all students have an opportunity to use their voice and build language skills.


I hear tons of pitfalls about students talking and want to address a few.

“It will be too loud.”

Talking makes noise, and productive noise is good.

If you remind the students that they will need to use a whisper voice, a 3 inch voice, a level 1 voice – however you want to put it, and practice and practice and practice it will be terrific.

Just as a personal note – when I walk by classrooms and it is silent I think, “The kids must not be doing much learning because the teacher must be talking all the time.”

“I don’t have time for the students to talk.”

A well-planned Turn and Talk can take less than two minutes, can help students process information and will help everyone refocus on the lesson.

You have two minutes, right?

“They aren’t talking about our topic.”

One, yummy, juicy, hard question is all you need to drive a fantastic lesson.

There are so many times that I will use the same question over and over for Turn and Talk in the same lesson as it progresses and the learning grows.

The key to building meaningful discussions in students is writing questions that are open ended, and require a multiple word answer.

So, let’s get out there and talk!

If this has made you laugh, think or smile – please stop by Elementary-Teacher-Resources Facebook Page and chat with us!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

See you next month!

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