Better Turn And Talks (from Doug)

Posted: October 20th, 2015 | Author: | | No Comments »

A turn-and-talk is when the teacher has kids talk to each other in a small group. At Bridge, the most common version is the 3 kids who sit together on the same bench. It’s very hard to build a productive culture where the conversations kids have are valuable. We’ve struggled there. Our kids come from their old schools where they sit silently while the teacher talks; they typically only speak in “choral response.”

Doug Lemov profiles a teacher who is particularly good at turn-and-talk. Erin Krafft in Houston.

He writes:

The first thing we noticed was how beautifully she built a positive, productive and efficient procedure for Turn and Talk. In this clip you can see her essentially installing the Turn and Talk system she will use for the duration of the year. It’s a brilliant system that we hope you’ll steal! The system included guidance on how to agree or disagree within one’s partner within the Turn and Talk, and it fostered an incredibly powerful Culture of Error (discussed later) that enables more rigorous and productive student-to-student discussion.

Some key points:

Erin’s Turn and Talk began with clear “Managed Turns.” “Door partners” were instructed to speak first, and Erin checked with a show of hands to be sure that students were clear on which partner is “door partner.” Then it would be the “window partner’s turn.” This small detail is critical since the goal of Turn and Talk is to involve all students. In many classrooms students are sent to a series of Turn and Talks where some kids talk constantly and others talk not at all. Managing turns makes sure everyone talks.

Erin was also clear about how the first partner should start by providing a sentence starter: “My answer is _____ because…” This sentence starter is important for ensuring that students get right to work productively and that they get to discussing their process not just their answer.

The directions for the second partner to agree/disagree were equally clear. She taught them how to agree or disagree directly and respectfully. One person on our team noted after watching Erin’s class, “The simplicity of her directions is elegant because it places the emphasis on student conversation.”

Despite the clarity of her directions, Erin checked in one last time (with hand raising for responsibilities and Call and Response for sentence starters) to be sure students were clear on the directions—because this part of the system was new, and because it’s so important to her overall culture.

Erin brought her class back together with a simple, 3-2-1. She respectfully allowed students to wrap up their conversations, and then efficiently began her whole group review.

Something else struck us just as forcefully, though, when she called on a student to report back on what she and her partner talked about. The student, Alexis, raised her hand to share the content of her discussion: “I realize that I got it wrong because my neighbor told me that I’d missed a zero [in evaluating the problem].” With a chuckle, she happily admitted– to her teacher and all of her peers– that she’d gotten the answer wrong at first, and it wasn’t until her partner pointed out her error that she could understand where she’d made her mistake.

You can read the whole thing here.

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