One of the greatest gifts we can give early college students is the confidence of knowing when to talk and when to listen. Providing opportunities for students to hone their discussion skills is the topic of this month's hybrid PD, Talk Moves.
Talk moves are simple scaffolds (in the form of question stems) that increase productive discussions within the classroom. The goals include helping students deepen their reasoning, think with others, listen carefully to one another, and to help individual students share, expand, and clarify their own thinking. The use of talk moves will benefit students at high school and college with eventual use as routine.
Used with overt instruction and regularity, the scaffolds provide the ingredients for quality (vs. surface) conversation in partnerships, small groups, and even whole class discussions. See the button below for an interesting blog article on what surface conversations look like and what you can do about it.
"To facilitate substantive and rigorous discussions, the following four goals are necessary and foundational. Without these, you will not have the conditions you need to ensure that the talk deepens student reasoning and understanding. The talk moves described in this section will help you accomplish these four goals.
Goal 1: Helping Individual Students Share Their Own Thoughts
If a student is going to participate in the discussion, he or she has to be able to share thoughts and responses out loud, in a way that is at least partially understandable to others. If only one or two students can do this, you don’t have a discussion––you have a monologue or, at best, a dialogue between the teacher and a student.
Goal 2: Helping Students Orient to and Listen Carefully to One Another
If a student is just sitting waiting to speak, and is not listening to others and trying to understand them, he or she will not be able to contribute to a real discussion. Your ultimate goal involves sharing of ideas and reasoning not simply a series of students giving their own, unconnected thoughts, one by one.
Goal 3: Helping Students Deepen Their Reasoning
Even if students express their thoughts and listen to others’ ideas, the discussion can still fail to be academically productive if it does not include solid and sustained reasoning. Most students are not skilled at pushing to deepen their own reasoning. Therefore, a key role of the teacher is to continuously and skillfully press the students for reasoning and evidence.
Goal 4: Helping Students Engage With Others’ Reasoning
The final step involves students actually taking up the ideas and reasoning of other students and responding to them. This is when real discussion can take off, discussion that will support robust learning. And it’s exhilarating for students and teachers alike!
Many teachers display the question stems or provide students with a "cheat sheet" so that they can use the moves on their own when talking to each other. There are specific moves for both math and science courses as well (see buttons below).
This month's work is reflective in nature and requires Veteran and Newbie alike to comment in the appropriate Newbie modern learning log. Find an opportunity to be intentional using talk moves, provide students a brief rationale (the need to deepen reasoning, for instance, and a few example talk moves posted on the board or a "cheat sheet." Comment in the log by following these steps:
1. Provide date, subject, and briefly give an overview of the lesson. Examples in italics -
April 25, Teacher PD, Today the topic of the lesson was about deepening classroom conversations using Talk Moves.
2. Denote the goal you are specifically trying to accomplish.
In class today I concentrated on Goal 3, helping students deepen their reasoning.
3. Describe how you set-up the learning (I displayed the stems on the board and explained why I was using them for the class discussion), how you grouped students (partners, small groups, whole class, etc.), sample question stems you used, and how the conversation developed.
(I grouped students in small groups and eventually we were in whole class. The question stems I concentrated on were "What's your evidence?" How did you get to that conclusion? How does your idea and ___________'s idea match? Does it always work like that? Why? Students started off hesitating, but generally, they used the stems to talk to each other)
4. Reflect on the student behaviors. (The small group discussions were a little stilted at first, as I continued to prompt them, students started to make better connections on their own. I made sure that students were aware that I was listening at first and then backed off once I saw students were engaged in conversation directly related to the topic. After the questions within the small group were asked and answered, I engaged students in a whole class discussion, using a sample of the stems. In all it took fifteen minutes in whole class, but it was worth it since some small groups had delved into the topic a lot deeper than others. I heard a lot of "Ahas" and "I didn't think of that!" )
5. Comment on your partner's reflections, adding "I wonders" or "How did _____ work out?"
Since this assignment is not contingent on a classroom visit, please submit reflections by May 5 and comment on your partner by May 8. All reflections and comments are due bu May 8.
These goals for facilitating classroom discussion are adapted from Anderson, Chapin, & O'Connor(2011). Copyright 2011 by Math Solutions. (www.academia.edu-Talk Moves As Tools)"
A note about foreign language classes
Depending on the level, talk moves can be used.
Pail of prompts: Make slips of papers with different scenarios related to your unit. Have students draw them out of a pail and practice a conversation on the topic, provide students with the question stems in the foreign language. https://www.fluentu.com/blog/educator/mfl-activities/