Where to Start & How-Tos
"Being able to talk and express your thoughts clearly is vital in life. Yet, too many students are graduating without sufficient experience with group discussions, or arguing their ideas effectively, and they are finding themselves unprepared for the communication demands of college and their careers.
How can we prepare our students for these rigors?
To lay a better foundation for this learning, we can do a few things: we can value oral language development, we can value communication of ideas over grammatical correctness, and we can value oral language as a powerful way to learn and remember content." Jeff Zweirs (October 29,2014) Key Strategies For Developing Oral Language. [Blog post]. retrieved from https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2014/10/29/strategies-for-developing-oral-language-ousd/
After watching the Edutopia Video, Oracy in the Classroom: Strategies for Effective Talk, I was inspired to learn more about the school in the video. How did they create a culture of talk?
Setting the stage for classroom talk requires a mind shift and planning. Getting started is always the hardest part. Creating solid conversation protocols will set students and teachers up for success and get kids talking. Before jumping into content heavy conversations based on difficult academic language, consider ways to increase the opportunities and effectiveness of classroom talk. This page includes:
Recognize Roadblocks that Prevent Student Talk?
Students need to be taught how to have academic conversations. They need to learn how to listen respectfully, agree, disagree and add onto their partner's ideas. The first step is to create a clear and concise set of guidelines. Students need to see examples of good and bad conversations. They need to help create these guidelines. The guidelines or norms need to be review frequently. In the beginning of the year, they may need to be reviewed daily. When a conversation does not go as plan, teachers can refer to the discussion guidelines and determine which norm needs attention, or perhaps and new rule needs to be added to the list.
You can call these guidelines anything you want, Talk Protocols, Conversation Norms.... The key is that teachers refer to them regularly and enforce them.
Here is the Discussion Guideline from School 21 which was shown in the Edutopia Video.
Discussion Guidelines from School 21
1. Respect everyone’s ideas.
2. Be prepared to change your mind.
3. Come to a share agreement.
4. Clarify, Challenge, Summarize and Build on each other's ideas
5. Invite someone to contribute by asking them a question (use their name)
6. Show Proof of Listening (eye contact, nothing in hands, nodding etc.)
Students need to practice using academic conversations before you introduce difficult academic language or new complex content. I think we all know that children are not born knowing how to disagree respectfully. They need to be taught, using some sentence stems, and then they need to practice.
Talk Tasks are a great way to practice academic conversations with content that is familiar and fun. The idea is to have highly engaging Talk Task or questions, that have a low cognitive content. The focus of a talk task is getting kids to practice conversation, not the academic content. Talk Tasks are focused on a type of academic conversation like:
Teacher partner students strategically and project the talk task. Here is an example of a Talk Task:
Here is a Google Slide presentation with many Talk Tasks, a Discussion Guidelines & Proof of Listening.
Versions of Think-Pair-Share