Read “VOICES FROM THE CLASSROOM – Three Tips for Teacher Talk” and complete the writing prompt.
Three Tips for Teacher Talk
By Cristina Fontana, first-grade teacher, Guilford, Connecticut
Using effective language in the classroom and when conversing with students is crucial. Below are some guidelines that I keep in mind when I converse with students.
Less is more. I have found that the less I address the whole class, the more students listen when I do address them. Less teacher talk allows for conversations to be more student directed. Student-led conversations foster agency and encourage sharing of ideas.
I have found that proper planning prior to a lesson is what has helped me to talk less. Before a lesson, I plan out the intended learning as well as possible prompting questions to allow students to get to the end goal.
Wait time. It is important to allow adequate wait time after posing a question or asking for student input. Extending my wait time has increased student participation. When we do not allow for proper wait time, the students who take longer to process or compose ideas may get discouraged. Students may also start to think, “I don’t need to think of the answer, Johnny will answer for me.” Wait time slows down the conversation and allows students to process the ideas that are being shared.
Depending on the lesson, I may wait for every student to have an answer to share with the group. Asking students to put their thumbs up on their knees when they have an answer and waiting for each student to do so gives every student the amount of processing time he/she needs to arrive at an answer. This fosters student agency and teaches students that all of their ideas are important and valued.
Ask open-ended questions. When asking closed questions (i.e., yes or no responses) the conversation has nowhere to go. To help me realize when I was using closed questioning, I started audio recording my lessons. I then listened to the questions I asked and thought about how I could change the questions to be more open-ended. For example, rather than asking, “Did the character change?” I would ask, “How did the character change?” That small change can take the answer from a simple yes or no to a discussion or debate.
WRITING PROMPT: Summarize the “Three Tips for Teacher Talk” and how you might implement these strategies in your classroom. Name and explain a tip you might add to the list of three.