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.  The new Common Core State Standards heavily focus on students being able to adequately provide evidence.  This evidence should be provided not only in their written work, but also during whole class, small group, and partnership discussions.  This is where Accountable Talk comes in.

A great resource for Accountable Talk can be found in this document, Conducting Classroom Conversations, by three classroom teachers, including Cathy Hsu, who teaches 4th grade here in PAUSD.  Cathy gave a great presentation on Accountable Talk last spring for PAUSD elementary summer school teachers.  Her talk inspired me to make accountable talk a larger focus in my classroom this year.

Two important factors need to be considered for starting to implement Accountable Talk.  The first is classroom layout.  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 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 reading over Conducting Classroom Conversations (linked above) for more in-depth information.

Classroom layout to support Accountable Talk