Something to think about: When did you last use talk to start a lesson?What ideas/techniques/activities have youused? (Please note some of these down.)
• Share your ideas with someone.• Join up with another pair and compare ideas.
• Advantages for starting lessons with talk: – allows for a settling time when class are arriving (can accommodate late-comers); – doesn’t require very many resources; – allows for rehearsal, before things are committed to paper; – encourages those who are quieter to begin to take part; – it can help provide a timely recap and shape the rest of the lesson; – it forces independence and focus; – helps to prevent the beginning of the lesson being ‘dead time’; – begins to tap into higher order thinking very early on in the lesson.
Active ListeningDescription:Students should be taught and encouraged tolisten carefully and effectively.• Look at the person speaking• Give them your full attention• Do not interrupt• Nod (or smile) to show you understand• Ask questions (when it is OK to do so) if youdo not understand. This will show you havebeen thinking about what you hear.Outcomes:By encouraging students to assume the traitsof good listeners, we can help them developessential skills.
Individual Thinking TimeDescription:Students are allowed to think through anissue in silence and without interruption.Outcomes:BY providing students with thinking time,they are encouraged to explore issues in moredepth than might be usual.This can be the first part of think-pair-share.
Think-pair-shareDescription:Students are provided with the opportunity tothink about an issue without information.Students should share their idea with their“talk partner”.Ideas are shared with the whole class.Outcomes:By providing students with thinking time, theyare encouraged to explore issues in moredepth than might be usual.All students are provided with opportunity toshare their ideas.
Talk PartnersDescription:Within the class, each student has a partnerwith whom they feel comfortable and withwhom they share ideas, opinions andplanning.Outcomes:Some students find it a daunting prospect tospeak in front of a whole class, even toanswer brief questions. Working regularlywith a set partner helps students grow inconfidence at expressing themselves. Thiscan lead on to “snowballing” – whichencourages students to explain their ideas toa larger group – or to “think-pair-share” –which encourages students to explain theirideas to the whole class. This should becomeless daunting because students have had theopportunity to think about their answers andto rehearse them.
Thought ShowersDescription:A quick collection of ideas from all membersof the group. With the minimum amount ofstructure, students are invited to call outwords or ideas relating to the topic. Allsuggestions are recorded, preferably on aboard or flipchart, without any initialjudgment. Subsequently, ideas can begrouped, ordered or evaluated - withoutattributing them to any specific individual.Outcomes:This is a good way to generate a wide rangeof responses and to encourage creativethinking. All too often, anticipating that theirsuggestion might be ridiculed, students curtailtheir responses. The relative anonymity ofthis approach encourages all students tocontribute. It is also a useful first stage whenseeking to construct a concept map (ormindmap).
Listening TriangleDescription:Students work together in groups of three.•The SPEAKER explains the topic (orexpresses their opinion on an issue) asdirected by the teacher.•The QUESTIONER listens carefully and asksfor clarification or further detail.•The NOTE-TAKER observes this process andprovides feedback to both "speaker" and"questioner".•A "numbered heads" approach can be usedto allocate roles - and these roles can berotated (either now or subsequently).Outcomes:This activity helps to develop speaking andlistening skills and raises students awarenessof what constitutes both a clear explanationand active listening.
Information GapDescription:Students work in pairs.Each student is provided with half of theinformation required to complete a task or toachieve a learning objective.Having been provided with opportunity tostudy their "half", students meet together toshare what they have learned.This can also work in triads (or even groups offour).Outcomes:Research shows that students are better ableto learn, understand and recall information ifthey have discussed it or taught it to others.This activity provides opportunity to doprecisely that.
Yes and No QuestionsDescription:There are various ways of employing thisstrategy.•Working in small groups, each studentcomposes a question relating to the topic,bearing in mind that their fellow groupmembers can only answer "yes" or "no".•Working in pairs, students composequestions (relating to a specified topic) topose to the rest of the class.•Working in small groups, students composequestions to be posed to the teacher.Outcomes:This activity provides students with theopportunity to practice asking questions. Italso encourages them to clarify their thinkingand to refine their vocabulary and languageskills.
EnvoyingDescription:Having discussed their own ideas or completedtheir own piece of research, each group sends an"envoy" to share their ideas or information withanother group. The envoy may be•chosen by the group•pre-selected and notified by the teacher•selected by the teacher but only notifiedimmediately before being sent.To ensure fairness, the teacher may choose touse a "numbered heads" approach for selectingthe envoy.Outcomes:Before sending their envoy, each group mustensure that s/he is well prepared. NB: It is theresponsibility of the group to prepare theenvoy. If the group is not aware who the envoywill be, the onus is on them to ensure that everymember fully understands what is to be shared.
SnowballingDescription:Students talk in pairs, either to develop initialideas or to share what they already knowabout a topic. These pairs double up and pooltheir ideas in the new group of four. Foursdouble up to eights and pool ideas. Etc.Outcomes:This is a useful activity for finding out whatstudents already know about a topic, actingas a means of revising that knowledge.
Scan & CheckDescription:Each student has an information sheet whichthey scan quickly. Students then pair up andshare what they have each learned. Findingsare then reported back to the whole class.Outcomes:This activity helps to develop studentsreading skills, encouraging them to read in apurposeful way. Recounting what they havejust read helps to reinforce thatinformation. Working in pairs means that eachstudent is prompted by their partner as theyseek to recall what they have read.
JigsawingDescription:Students start off in “home groups”. Using a“numbered heads” approach, each student inthe home group is given an aspect of a topicto research. Students (from each of the homegroups) working on the same aspect cometogether to research their common question.They become the “expert group” for thatparticular aspect of the topic. Students nowreturn to their home groups to share theirfindings and to complete the jigsaw.Outcomes:This activity encourages collaborative learningand stresses the importance of workingtogether. The home groups depend for theirsuccess on each member bringing back asmuch as they can from the expert groups.
Mini-presentationDescription:Groups work together to collect and presentinformation. This activity could follow on froma “jigsawing” activity. Alternatively, thegroup may decide which task or topic toallocate to each member. The group must alsodecide how best to present their information.The teacher may wish to stipulate that everymember of the group plays some part in thepresentation (even if it is only pointing to theparts of a diagram or holding up relevantartifacts).Outcomes:This activity helps to develop speaking andpresentation skills. It also helps to developstudents organisation skills. By valuing eachstudents work and contribution, it can helpto build self-esteem.
Role PlayDescription:Working together in small groups, eachstudent within the group is allocated a role(relating to the particular issue underdiscussion). As discussion progresses, eachstudent represents the point of view of therole they represent. This can also beconducted as a whole class activity with rolesbeing allocated to groups of students, whoare allowed to prepare their case beforehand.Outcomes:This activity encourages students to expressempathy with different points of view and canact as a preparation for making an argumentor developing a piece of persuasivewriting. The activity can also be used whenplanning for story-writing.
Hot SeatDescription:After suitable preparation (which may entailindividual research or small group coaching),one student volunteers or is selected to take thehot seat, either as a “character” or as an“expert”. The rest of the class poses questionsto the hot seat. This can also be conducted as anactivity within a number of small groups,perhaps allocating each student within thegroup a different character (from a story orplay).Outcomes:Although there is only one student in the hotseat, the whole class is engaged in the learning(consolidation) process as they devise suitablequestions to pose. This is a useful strategy forencouraging students to consider the emotionsand feelings of a character in a story, play orhistorical event.
Rainbow GroupsDescription: Students start in "home groups". Groupsdiscuss a topic. Students are numbered (orallocated colours) and re-group by number (orcolour). These new groups should have arepresentative from every group, ifpossible. All students take a turn at reportingback what their group discussed and anydecisions they may have arrived at.Outcomes:This activity is beneficial because itencourages every child to listen (to theirhome group) and to talk (to theirnumber/colour group).