#SOL19: Day 25 SOLSC

He leaned in. “What’s the score?”

“Tied. 71 all. Amazing comeback.”

“Um. Huh. They were down by 21.”

I bite my tongue. Not literally.  I want to correct him and say, “No, they were down by 25 in the first half.” But I’ve never seen this person before and do those four points really matter? But it’s hard.  It was so pathetic that we were down by 25.




So odd.

I check.

I double check.

I confirm that I am not wearing any school colors. And yet this stranger sitting with his family is talking to me about the game. I just had this conversation last week with my friend from Boston, but then the conversations began because I was wearing school colors even in a state far far away – half a country away.  The margin of the game had narrowed to nine points before we went to lunch. Expecting the game to be over, I checked the score and that was when the conversation began.

How important is talk in the classroom?

Google would help you think it is quite important as you could find thousands of resources on both Pinterest and TpT – neither of which are recommended. But that’s a surface quick fix that doesn’t get at the CORE purpose of talk – to share thinking and discuss at deep levels.  Moving beyond surface sentence stems will require instruction.

What do you believe about classroom talk?

If you believe that the teacher needs to “scaffold” the talk, you may be doing a disservice to your students, according to Kara Pranikoff, author of Teaching Talk.

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Entry points:

Inquiry. What is the status of talk?  Who talks?  To whom? When? What is the difference between social talk and academic talk?

Talk to students. Who do they want to listen to?  Who do they listen to?  What “rules” do they prefer – formally or informally?

Listen to students.  Listen to understand. Not to respond. Not to fix. Not to negate. What do you learn from listening and considering patterns in student talk.

Teach. Don’t just scaffold forever. What skills need to be taught?  How will skills taught lead to greater independence for students?

Check out this book. Talking and Thinking!

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Sample Chapter

Core beliefs

Breathing New Life into the Talk in Your Classrooms

Who’s doing the work in “TALK”?

How do you TEACH student talk and thinking? 

How can instruction actually encourage student thinking? 

And of course, some of us can and do easily talk to strangers about issues and events that matter like the game that began this post. My attention to the game began with a terse email from a sibling.  When and how do we help students gain the confidence and comfort to have meaningful conversations with folks in their worlds?

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this daily March forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.

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10 responses

  1. I love your sort-of-talk about the game and the battles you choose not tofight!

    1. Thanks, Anita. That fine line between a “know it all” and “precise facts” – and understanding that our perceptions are not the same . . . . LIFE!

  2. If I could preach one take away that I’d love to see universally practiced it would be:
    “Listen to understand. Not to respond”
    It is so hard, but so impactful.
    I need to do this more, I believe the world needs to do this more.
    Another thoughtful post, Fran!

    1. Paula,
      That one is tough and takes constant work! Thanks!

  3. Talk to students – yes. Talk at student – NO!

  4. Hey -am I your Boston friend?? It was weird how people saught you out – but also seemed so right. Keep talking to strangers – you are good at it!

    1. Clare,
      YES, I instantly thought of you. But it was bizarre as I had zero black and gold! And I was 85 miles away from that college site! ❤

  5. I can’t believe you were watching with no black and gold. And they should have won! Love the connections you make in this post. Conversations and talking skills are so important and we don’t do enough listening and letting students muddle through conversations.

    1. Melanie, i wore black and gold Friday . . . LOL So true…. the learning is in the “muddling through the conversation!”

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