Teachers for Teachers | Mentor Teaching Move: The Art of Speaking and Listening  #T4TMoments
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Mentor Teaching Move: The Art of Speaking and Listening  #T4TMoments

A wise professor once told us that classroom conversation should look more like a soccer game than a tennis match.  She explained that students must listen and speak to each other rather than having the entire class speak directly to the teacher.  She wanted the conversation to move around like a soccer ball, not lob back and forth like a tennis ball.

One of the first steps to get the conversation moving throughout a classroom is to teach students to look at the speaker and to have the speaker look at peers.  Looking at the person who is talking helps students develop listening skills.  Instead of raising one’s hand when someone is speaking, we encourage students to lower their hands and turn their heads and bodies toward the speaker.

We have found this small change makes a big impact.   Students are listening more intently and building new ideas through conversation.  Once students learn how to look at who is talking and speak to the entire class, we can show them conversation moves such as I heard you say… I would like to add on… I agree with _____________ (student name) and would like to add…  I am wondering…  I understand your idea and am thinking… I was thinking and now I think…

Lucy Calkins reminds us, “… talk, like reading and writing, is a major motor-I could even say the major motor of intellectual development” (The Art of Teaching Reading).  We completely agree.  Talk helps students refine and revise their thinking, discover new ideas, draft their writing more efficiently, and it makes learning more fun.

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