In the second Teacher Advocates session of the year, we discussed the importance of nurturing high quality student talk in our lessons and the impact this can have. We began by considering why this is something we need to develop:
“The kind of talk that happens in a classroom largely determines the kind of learning that takes place and developing an armoury of tools to facilitate that talk should be at the top of every teacher’s list, whether that be learning how to scaffold learning with effective explanations and worked examples or setting up the kids of fruitful conversations that lead to genuine learning.” Hendrix and Macpherson, ‘What does this look like in the classroom?’ (2017)
We then worked to put together the following ‘Top Ten’ techniques for improving talk in the classroom.
- Think right, talk right, write right.
Encouraging students to see talk as a reflection of thinking and to prepare them effectively for work in books.
- Praising language in student answers
Providing students clear positive feedback when using language well in the classroom. Using this reinforce high expectations and aim to encourage students to mirror these language habits.
- Modelling Appropriate Language
Using teacher dialogue and explanations to reiterate styles of speaking and use key words related to the lesson. Encouraging students to feedback on the ways in which we use talk in the lessons.
4.Classroom talk guidelines
Providing clear and structured guidelines on how talk should take place in the lesson. Keeping those visible during any independent tasks involving dialogue.
- Script It
Have a script for correcting students’ language. Sharing this script with students so it becomes a routine part of lessons. Examples:
“Just because I challenge you doesn’t mean you are wrong, it just means I want you to explain more”
“Your idea’s strong now. I want you to upgrade it with more precise language or more professional language.”
- Talk like a…
Deconstructing what talk should look like in individual subjects with students. Using this to encourage them to adapt a subject specific register and use key words related to subjects throughout lessons.
- Collaborative approach to moderating language
Good to use with younger year groups in particular. Having students in role to offer feedback in lessons:
- Word choice detective: noting down all the excellent words used in the lesson.
- Filler formality detective: identifying over use of fillers in lessons and any moment that slip into informality.
- Say it again with confidence
Encourage students to project and develop confidence in the quality of their answers. Asking students to repeat with more clarity and confidence.
9.Opportunities to adapt to different speaking registers
Consider ways in lessons to provide more opportunities for students to communicate in different ways, eg. formal presentations or role play of different characters.
- Set up paired/group dialogue
Circulating and reinforcing positive expectations about their talk. Visible sentence starters, key words to scaffold talk. Giving clear timings to ensure productive use of time.