Use Talk Tools in Your Classroom
Did you know that talking it out enhances problem-solving, learning, and our ability to transfer learning from one task to another? Think about your classroom for a moment and ask yourself who does most of the talking? If it is you, this post will help and if it is students, this post will help. We all want to improve classroom conversations so that students improve their thinking, reasoning and problem-solving skills. There is another benefit to conversations. Students will improve their listening skills, they will learn and retain information better because they will have to think about what is being said and can come up with agreements or disagreements. Talk tools really come in handy to teach effective conversation skills.
Students need effective practice and time to develop conversation skills. When we solve problems and reason topics, we do most of our thinking and talking in our heads. Students need to learn to do this, so we teach them to do it outside of themselves first. Through whole or small group students will have a chance to be engaged in reasoning. We will facilitate and guide but not focus on providing answers directly. Instead, we will work on guiding them and leading them through discovery and exploration of concepts that will help them to better understand and remember.
When we teach a concept, we always teach vocabulary and meaning but are we allowing students to use it in conversation? Conversations are so important. Students will use vocabulary, concepts, reasoning, opinions and critical thinking to explain and reason behind their thinking. They will learn to agree and disagree and most importantly change their minds when provided with new information.
Conversations can also reveal understanding and misunderstanding for the purpose of informal and self-assessment. It can support language development and help support social skills.
Only if we give students a chance to talk about their thinking will they learn to voice their opinions. I hope I have sold you on the idea of having more conversations in class. We need to explicitly teach students the ground rules of discussions. Talk tools are a great way to introduce the norms of effective conversation. We can do this first by explaining that we will be working better to talk together and share ideas, so to do this properly: