Monday, August 12, 2013

Accountable Talk in the Classroom

I've always made an effort using Accountable Talk with my students, but this year I'm going to make
even more of an effort. Students should be encouraged to talk (a lot!) during whole class, small group, and partner discussions.  This is where Accountable Talk practice comes in.

Two important factors need to be considered for starting to implement Accountable Talk.  The first is classroom layout (see chart below).  I set-up my classroom so there is both a large area for the entire class to gather and face each other and many small group areas. Secondly, students need to be explicitly taught how to use  accountable talk in a respectful way.  I created an anchor chart (to the right) with prompts that we'll refer to during the first few weeks of school.  I'll keep this chart posted in the classroom until the discussions become more natural and automatic.  While these two factors are keys to getting started in the classroom, I highly recommend also encouraging kiddos to notice how they are talking with each other.  

One way to do this is through a fish bowl.  In the fish bowl strategy, two students or a small group are in the middle of a large circle created by the rest of the class.  This is usually done best in a large classroom meeting area.  Invite the children in the middle to discuss a relevant classroom topic.  Then, the magic comes when we ask the students on the outside observing to jot notes about the conversation- not just about what was said, but also about body language- eye contact, posture, and non verbal cues such as nodding. Happy talking!

Classroom layout to support Accountable Talk