Saturday, February 28, 2015

Accountable Talk Tools

Boy, has it been a long time since my last post!  I've been busy, to say the least, with teaching three courses this semester, loving my 1/2 classroom by day and shoveling, shoveling, shoveling the 3 feet + of snow that has plagued the Northeast.  Can we say seven snow days and school on two days during April vacation?

Since last year, my school has had professional development on Accountable Talk across all subject areas.  We want our learners to be thinkers--more than that.  We want our students to think deep, to encourage each other to think deeply and to be able to clearly and accurately explain their deep thinking to others.  We have had quite a few walk-throughs in order to measure our growth (anonymously) throughout our journey.  The results have allowed us to celebrate how far we have come and to plan our next steps to get even better!

Encouraging Accountable Talk in my classroom has been a learning curve.  I was challenged at first to figure out when I could talk and when I couldn't!  At the same time however, I was eager to push my students.  They were ready.

In mathematics one day, my principal and a team were doing a walk-through.  The children were very busy working on a non routine math problem (at the beginning stages).  They hadn't solved it right away.  Some weren't on the right path to getting the problem solved.  Some mathematicians were doing a lot of talking, but were saying incorrect information.  

At first, I thought this went wayyyyy wrong.  I wasn't sure if saying anything to the groups was OK.  Afterwards, my principal said something really powerful.  "You coach the talk, not the math."

Coaching the talking, not necessarily the content was an eye opener for me.  Because I teach first and second graders, my goal was to work on how we talk to each other.  To do this, I need to model it, scaffold it, reinforce it and model it some more!  It's OK to be doing the talking as the teacher when it comes to training our young thinkers how to use accountable talk.  I do this in a number of ways.

If a student appears to be challenged I may say, "How about talk to your team?  Tell them the specific part that has you confused."

If a group is finished with a problem early, I may say, "Talk to each other.  Come up with another way to show your thinking."

In a turn and talk, I am always reinforcing accountable talk "I notice how not only did you say you disagree with your partner's thinking.  You explained why with evidence from the text!"

From the above example, you can notice how I am coaching the talk, not the content of my lesson.  There are so many great resources out there to promote accountable talk.  

My teaching partner and I really like this one because of the icons that diving the type of talk from talk that will ask a question, to talk that will begin to state a friendly disagreement.

In my classroom, I made an Accountable Talk bookmarks and have hung up many banners with questions, response stems, etc.  Both are available in my TpT store by clicking HERE.  Below are some to which I refer when I want to push thinking during mathematics.

I have a whole banner of them over one of my large bulletin boards too.  I have modeled a few at a time over the course of this year.  The reading teacher and the speech therapist in my school have both hung some up in their classrooms too.

Here's what I have used to make handy dandy bookmarks or reminder cards for my students.

Happy weekend.  Melt, snow melt!

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