Are They Talking?

I read a statistic somewhere that English Language Learners in the United States talk only 4% of the time during their day.  That shocked me, but when I thought about it I realized that for most students there is not a lot of talk in their day. Classrooms that are looked upon as “in control” or have “good management” tend to be quiet in our own minds as teachers.

But talking can be done with good management and can be powerfully done. I’m hearing over and over that research says that talk is so important for both language development and understanding new concepts.

So I thought I’d try out some mini debates with my intervention groups. I was thinking that these are my students who are talking the least because they are the most unsure in the classroom.  What I did was present them with 4 solutions to a problem.


At first it was painful trying to get them to see anything, or even say a word. They are so used to waiting out the teacher, or waiting for another student to see what they notice. And then, they began to see things…I started to write what they saw, and it was exactly the things that I’ve been showing them for weeks.  When it was their time to talk about it, the light bulb clicked on.  What an eye opener this was for me!  I’ve been talking about tens and ones and addition strategies…showing them one at a time. I WAS DOING ALL THE TALKING. Ugh. I don’t know how many times I need to learn this hard lesson. Check out what they noticed:


So I whipped up a few this weekend for you to try.  I’d love for you to try it with small groups, with partners or with your whole classroom. Just click on the image below to download and let me know what you think!



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