Thursday, August 4, 2016

Shift #3: Classroom Conversation

Shift #3 will be the toughest challenge for me.  I had the opportunity for coaching last year, and it really helped me to notice my talk. Classroom talk is a two way street and in the past I have been more of the director of conversations. My other guilt is that I tended to be the answer keeper (not all the times) but especially when I was rushed for time and for sure in math. 
Compliments of Google image

I'm excited about this shifting teacher talk to include more question because I believe it could be the game changer.  I have read several articles, chapters and twitter chats to help me change my thinking.  I am going to have a cheat sheet index card to help me the first few months of school.  It has a huge question mark and a few prompts to remind me to stop and ask questions.  My go to questions include

  • Explain your thinking NOT explain your answer
  • Justify your answer with support from your notebook NOT show me your work
  • Turn and talk with a friend who has a different answer/solution NOT just turn and talk
My biggest learning happened in math the past few years.  I needed to make changes with how they responded with answers. I have shifted from: What's the answer? to Which strategy did you use to solve the problem?  It's a double dip question both the answer and the thinking. This change was important because I used to want the "right" answer. Focusing on strategies which are crucial for math since there are so many different ways to solve a problem. Our conversation is centered around the strategies and their thinking not just the answer. 

Shift #3 will be a year long commitment. I have been thinking about gentle reminders to help me remember these changes. I'm getting excited about implementing my thinking from the summer when school starts in two weeks. I appreciate the comments because they always help me grow as a learner.



  1. This is such a hard shift, Maria. I think that we feel so pressed for time that this is where we face the greatest challenge - because kids need time to process their thinking and find the courage to speak. I record myself with my iphone from time to time...just to keep track of the balance between my talk and their talk. Thanks for another thoughtful post, my friend. We have four weeks to go, but I am in teacher mode already!

  2. Here's a fun thing that happened by accident. I gave my students a "finish this picture" doodle for seat work on the second morning. I turned on the document camera and shared my prefunctional ELL's picture, then said, "Who else would like to share?" BUT...I didn't call on any raised hands. I turned away and looked toward the screen. One child popped right up and shared. "Who will share next?" was a little harder. Then several got up at once and looked at each other.

    This is when I realized this was just like speaking in a conversation. You don't raise your hand. You give little clues about being ready to talk. You don't step on others' toes.

    1. Love this story ML. Those are the moments I wait for so we can build on them together as a whole class.