Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Let's get our kids talking!!

Reading and Writing float on a sea of talk.

--James Britton

More and more research is suggesting that academic conversations are foundational for other literacy skills.  Read this excerpt from a book called Content Area Conversations for a good foundational understanding of how important academic conversations really are.

Here is a poster I created with sentence stems that help kids get started or move them along when they have nothing to say.  I love to get students to add to it and make it their own:

These are a few of my favourite tools (insert Sound of Music theme song here) that may just get your kids talking more in class:

Face-to-Face Talk

1.  Save the Last Word for Me (Also called Final Word):  this is a great strategy to get kids talking and listening to each other.

2.  Grafitti:  This strategy gets kids up and moving and thinking and talking.  This is my favourite--I've never been in a class where this hasn't worked like a charm.  As a pre-reading strategy, I take excerpts from the story or article students are about to read; the level of understanding increases dramatically when students have had time to think and discuss.  If you have access to technology, you can use this strategy in combination with an Interactive Whiteboard or Whiteboard app (see Educreations below)

3.  Say Something:  I first learned about this strategy when I read Kylene Beers' book, When Kids Can't Read.  This is so simple and effective at any age.  It can be used for fiction, non-fiction, a video, an image; just about anything you want kids to talk about in class.

Virtual Talk

Face to face talk is extremely important, but sometimes technology breaks down the barrier and allows for students to participate when they wouldn't normally.

1.  TodaysMeet: simple but so awesome for getting kids to start a "conversation" and have their voices heard.

2.  Padlet:  Just a blank "pad" which give students the opportunity to post an idea, a link, etc...Students watch the pad get populated in real time.

3.  Voicethread:  I really love how this tool allows kids to listen to the perspective of others before adding their own.  I also like the different options--audio, video, text.  I don't love that there is a subscription fee after your initial free ones,  but if you're creative, you can let your free ones go a long way.

4.  Educreations (or ShowMe, DoodleCast, Explain Everything):  Any simple whiteboard tool that captures students speaking.  We have access to iPads so it's great to use with partners.  I find they need something upon which to anchor their conversations so I have them take a picture (image or text) and speak to specifics.