Tag Archives: Talk

#SOLSC20: Day 30

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So many ways to learn online . . .

This notice pops up on my FB timeline:

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These three notices were on Twitter.

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And I can read professional books.

These are just a few of the books that I am currently re-reading as I plan for this #G2Great learning opportunity this week.

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What is your learning plan for today? 

What is your learning plan for the week? 

Where do your ideas/information come from?

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum in March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#SOL19: Determining Importance

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I tugged at the thing in my mouth.  A string? What on earth?

I started to gag.

Someone grabbed my wrist and held it tightly. But the string in my mouth!  I know I was screaming “Take it out” but only a garbled mess came out.

My teeth hurt. Something was rubbing my lips.  My throat hurt.  And that string!

“Help me! Please!”

It was just one week after school was out for the summer. I was 9. My older sister and I were in beds in the same hospital room after having our tonsils out.  She wasn’t too thrilled about the apparent 2 for 1 discount.

Are all the events above equally important?  After a #TalkPower Twitter discussion of Chapter 4 last night I decided to practice using one of the tools from Shana Frazin and Katy Wischow’s new book from Heinemann.

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The Tool:  The Event-O-Meter

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The plan is to use this tool with events in a story or nonfiction book as students talk about the events and the category that they belong in.  In order to get a feel for this, I decided to try it with a story that I was drafting for my slice. The goal of this “game” is to discuss the thinking for the placement in a category.

Here’s how I thought about my story above. First Draft Thinking. (I wouldn’t use every sentence as I did in this first practice.)

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Is every detail or event in a story equally important? 

Who determines the importance? 

The author by its inclusion? 

The reader by their response?

(And sorry dear readers, I am still working on this story . . . )

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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#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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#SOL19: Day 19 SOLSC

“Hey, Iowa, how are you doing?”

My walking companion turns to face the man talking, who is also selling . . .

“Iowa State,” I forget and say, “No, Iowa Hawkeyes.” Now I’m engaging in the conversation.

Someone always asks for directions on the Metro. Inside Columbus Circle, I had no clue. A second request came outside Riverside Church so I could provide those directions.

Why do folks talk to me?  I wear my collegiate pride. (Remember we have no National Sports Teams in Iowa.) So I’m used to strangers talking to me or asking for help.

It was a pure pleasure to hear Anne Taranto Saturday at TCRWP in a session titled:  “Lifting the Level of Student’s Talking and Writing about Books:  Give Kids Tools and Tips to Talk and Jot about Books during Read Aloud, Book Clubs, and Partner Time”.

Here’s quick peek into the first three minutes.

“Talk is important.  Layer your talk.”

A turn and talk:

“In your role, what are the patterns that you are noticing around talk?  

Some of the most common that Anne shared with the packed to the gills, sit on the floor, participants in Everett Lounge were:

“They do a great job when I tell them what to do.”

“They are resistant and drag their heels.”

“We get structures up and running, but they don’t talk.”

Why is TALK important?

We need the language so we can talk. We need to share in order to display our thinking.  Community matters. So in order to raise the level of talk, we need to manage the big lofty things.  We need the bigger goal to manage the mess.  That means that we will have to let the control freak that loves quiet go in order to let the learning chaos rise. 

WE, the teachers, know our purpose.

Do our students?

Will the students ever hit the target if they don’t know the purpose? 

Try the talk . . .

Try the layers . . .

Try to see it another way . . .

When you are stuck, do you use talk?

Talk for a “process” or Talk to think deeper?

What results do you get when you don’t know the purpose? 

Is the work a bit frustrating?

How could you “reboot” talk to improve it?

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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August #TCRWP Writing: Day 4

tc columbia


Hallowed Halls of Learning,

Ivy League Halls of Learning,

1300 Learners

This Week






and then a Focus for Me.

Closing Choice Workshop:

Supporting Kids with IEPs

Creating an Environment, a Schedule, and Plans that

Accommodate All Your Learners 

by Val Geschwind

As we began, Val encouraged us to think of one child.  One child to be at the center of our thinking in every consideration for the environment, the schedule and the plans.  Just one child.  I always loved when Heidi Hayes Jacob did this.  So powerful!

So here he is:

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What about the Environment for this guy?

The depth of Val’s planning blew me away.

And remember that I come from the field of special education.

It was my life for many, many, many years.

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Self- Monitoring

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Support Risk-Taking

Val shared her thinking as well as explanations for each of these slides in her presentation.  The pictures truly added to my understanding, but the pictures were not the main focus.  Our focus was on the child at the center of our attention.  Were his/her socio-emotional needs met? Physical needs?  And what about supporting Risk-Taking?

How is that one child doing? Do you know if that child is “learning”?  What evidence do you use?

There’s a paradox here because writing is one area where many might propose that a child with very specific needs  as identified by IEP goals must receive a different kind of writing workshop.  That view is often focused on a very narrow subset of constrained skills that includes letter naming and recognition, drill on letter formation, and other worksh*ts (a totally out of context reference by Lucy Calkins in her opening keynote on July 31 to the materials that some students use during writing time). However, in the context of “All students are general education students FIRST”, they must receive differentiated instruction in the classroom writing workshop FIRST.


Because as Lanny Ball wrote so eloquently this week for the “Fundamentals of Writing Workshop” series, it is all about Time, Choice, Response, and Community and Cambourne’s Conditions of Learning: Immersion, Demonstrations, Expectations, Responsibility, Approximation, Practice, and Response. (TWT, August 1, 2017, here)  Aren’t those the things you want for your “one child” above?

Is every child successful in Writing Workshop?

Not necessarily.  But are writers in Writing Workshop classes achieving at higher levels than other classrooms? Are the students able to write independently?  Do they CHOOSE to write?  What does the data say?  What does their instruction say?

How are you measuring “Success” in Writing?

What environmental issues would you add to Val’s list?

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