On the weekend, I blogged about the Talking Tuesdays and Thinking Thursdays idea that evolved from a conversation with my principal, Paul Clemens. Today was our first Talking Tuesdays follow-up, and I couldn’t have been happier with the results.
Students were having meaningful discussions about the books, magazines, or newspapers that they read. They were listening to what others were saying and replying to the comments of their peers. Students were really seeing that reading is thinking.
Each group got to choose a tool to record their “talk.” Some students used the iPod Touches and iPads, some students used the Audacity on the computer, a couple of groups used the Livescribe Pens, and one group even got creative with the definition of “talking” and used a backchannel to “talk” on the computer. For 20 minutes, every student in the classroom was actively engaged in talking and thinking about literacy. Below are four examples of student discussions.
I can’t wait to see how the talking and thinking improves in the coming weeks. The amazing part though was what happened “after” Talking Tuesdays. Students got so involved in the conversations, that many decided to continue the discussion as part of their literacy centre routine. Some students wrote about their books on the computers, some students sat and expanded on their conversations, and one group in Miss Bucciacchio’s classroom created a Bitstrips comic highlighting their thoughts. Wow!
Today proved to me that even as students get older, they need to have meaningful, curriculum-related discussions, that push their own thinking and push the thinking of their peers. I can’t help but think of Carmel Crevola (@carmelcrevola) and her emphasis on oral language instruction. I think about the amount of time I spent on purposeful talk when teaching the primary grades, and I see the need to emphasize this in the junior grades as well. For next week, I’ll definitely be sitting down with more groups, listening to their conversations, and guiding when necessary. Many students need to continue to improve their reading comprehension skills, and what better way to start than with talking.
How do you emphasize oral language instruction in the classroom environment? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!