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Summer Series of Saves: Can we talk about this?

Trying something new: let me know if this works:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByKyQvl3l_F5MldSV1dEVmhPYW8/view?usp=sharing

 

Lots of good stuff in here — keep scrolling!

Questioning and Discussion go together like:

via GIPHY

Cult posted a comprehensive list of discussion ideas and asked for additions. As I scrambled through my Binder of Power, Volume III, Section 8.5, 2ii, ready to scan and share, this article in Medium popped up by Jon Westenberg, “Do you have a Protective mindset or a Proactive mindset?” 

Oh, no. It’s too early for this level of heavy-duty self-reflection. Oh. No. I could predict with sharp accuracy, which side of the line my mindset would sit: I mean, who has huge binders full of teaching ideas, ideas and handout from almost every PD session, curriculum maps created and abandoned, ledgers of standards and learning targets? This girl. And I would bet most teachers worth their salt do, too.

But what excellent timing: cleaning out my binders and virtual digital works is daunting. I’ve been on break for almost two weeks, and it’s one chore I have completed.

However– protective and proactive may not be a fair case when it comes to educational “wheels.” We are constantly told not to ‘recreate the wheel’ but I strongly encourage to make better wheels.

Taking the wheel cliche too far: we still need the wheels–how to make them better?

The Westenberg article made me think: what do students need to build strong foundations, and what can be trashed or treasured in this process?

One area the 8th grade PLC decided to focus on for next year, and I’m saving this so I won’t forget, are the ‘grand discussion’ techniques and tools.

Whole Class Discussion Types of Talkers Smartnotebook in a PDF form:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByKyQvl3l_F5NjQyUW82eER3ZEE/view?usp=sharing

TownHall Meeting format (from Puget Sound Writing Project PD on ELA/SS)

Discussion Checklist sheets:

Substantive Partner Project Talk organizers:

Writing Workshop Feedback forms

And don’t forget, if you use an LMS like Canvas, to dive into the Discussion on line, and teach those protocols, too.

There’s more, but I’m going to go play now.

Back:

Here are a few snapshots from the binder:

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Talk Tuesday

The intent of “Talk Tuesdays” was twofold: to use the readings/texts in a purposeful way, and invite students to think about discussion, and practice.

Well, that is the intent, and we all know about roads paved, etc. But I think I became too distracted or mired in the concept of ‘accountable talk.’ I’m not sure if you know my connotative negative bias toward the word ‘accountable’ when it comes to students. Accountable talk is a buzzkill idea. There. I said it. However, sometimes students think it’s going to be a free-for-all talk fest, and, well, sometimes it is. And that’s okay. I would rather have things turn more raucous than censored.

But somehow, and I’m speaking purely for myself, putting the descriptor ‘accountable’ on anything makes it taste like educational cardboard. If we start thinking about what are real purpose is, what we want students to be engaged, and even enchanted by, is sharing ideas in a passionate, “oh oh oh!!” way–and it’s okay if not everyone is excited about every topic. I know I’m not, and that honesty with students helps them know that sometimes they are not as emotionally invested in a topic as others.

What Great Listeners Do by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman in the Harvard Business Review provides clear expectations that could be easily modeled and role-played in class. The TL:DR version is great listeners help build the spark of an idea. It’s not a ‘you have a problem and I’ll fix it’ but more like an engaging gear, making an idea move forward. (Spouses take note.) This article is going directly into my teaching strategies with writing workshop, too.

Key ingredients exist in any interesting conversation:

  • An emotional stake (personal connection and empathy)
  • Ambiguous, essential questions that have kaleidoscope viewpoints
  • Allowances to shift or pivot with new information (see my substantive form)
  • Metacognition: understanding one self in order to monitor and assess how important the topic or theme is to one personally; extrapolate to a larger scale

There are multiple pathways for discussion, too:

  • Socratic Seminars
  • Town Hall meetings
  • Turn and Talk
  • Writing Workshop (next post)
  • Think, Pair, Share
  • About a thousand others (dang my hyperbole!)

The trick is to make sure students are listening, and having a chance with their say. It can come in the form of real talk, or on a class discussion board, etc. Two strategies I use are what I call the “ambassador of the table” idea. Whether or not I choose or they choose, there is an ambassador from each group who shares out what the group has said. Also, if it’s a small partner group of 2 to 3, each person has to share what the other said, and it’s always paraphrased. The person who is not speaking can then agree or repudiate what their partner interpreted.

And please– don’t force introverts to talk in class. Find another way.

How to Listen Better

Five Ways to Listen Better

Here are a few resources I’ve created or collected along the way:

Town Hall Meeting Guidelines – provided by Doug Selwyn

Speaking and Listening CCSS 8th Grade with annotations

Substantive Student Talk Graphic Organizer — I created this to help guide discussions

 

What do you have to say about this?