Speak Your Mind...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
...and learn-ing will follow. (to the tune of Free Your Mind)

your curly contributor, Suzanne

One of our campus goals is to implement Frequent, Small-group, Purposeful Talk about Learning (a super user-friendly title, right?) from the Fundamental 5.  We are encouraged to incorporate it into our lesson plans twice in a 90-minute block.  This isn't a radically new idea, but it has made me more intentional.

My hall buddy is the best at channeling her inner Linda Richman from Coffee Talk.

So let's look at some ways to get our students talking:

Think-Pair-Share (the Fun 5 refers to this as Stop-Jot-Talk...same difference)
Students consider a question and jot down their response.  They then partner with another student (either formally or informally) to share their answer.  
I like this routine because it allows quiet or reluctant students time to carefully consider their answer, and they walk into their sharing time with words to say.

Musical Shares
After writing a response, students stand beside their desk with their writing in hand.  When the music starts, they move around the room in any direction until the music stops and then they freeze.  Students will form a pair or trio with the people they are standing nearest to and share their response. We typically repeat this music-freeze-share routine 3 or 4 times.

Stick it To Me
I used this recently in class with pre-reading for Antigone.  After briefly discussing loyalty, I posed the question: to whom are you most loyal?  Around the room were posters labeled friends, family, faith and future.  Students had 3 minutes to choose one of the four and explain why they deserve their loyalty on a post-it.  After the timer went off, students stuck their post-it on the the corresponding poster.  They formed a group of 2-3 and discussed what they wrote for about 2 minutes.  You can allow students to get their post-it to motivate reluctant talkers.

Before my students share, I typically act out a conversation with sentence stems.  (In your group, I should hear things like, "I chose ____ because..." and "I agree with _____ because...")  Does this make me look like a crazy person?  What else it new?  Does it increase the likelihood that they will stay on task and have a productive-ish conversation?  Absolutely!!

Talk amongst ya-selves...

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