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Strategies That Work: Turn And Talk

We’re continuing our annual summer book study with Abby from Kindergarten Chaos. This summer we’re reading and discussing the book Strategies That Work which focuses on reading comprehension.

strategies that work

Key Takeaways

Here are my key takeaways from chapter 3,4 and 5. I will discuss a few of these in this post!

What Is Doing The Work? van

Who is talking?

According to the authors, and I must agree, that teachers are doing too much of the work. I have actually heard this quite bit over the years from our district leaders and building admin. Teachers should not be doing all of the work. So, the question is: Who is talking? Am I doing all of the talking or are the kids doing the majority of the talking?

Here are a few ideas for increasing student talk:

  1. Instead of calling on a volunteer to answer a question, have students turn and talk to discuss the answer or share their thoughts or ideas.
  2. Have students write (or draw in kindergarten) their thoughts or ideas FIRST and then share and discuss.
  3. Ask students if we agree or disagree with an idea and why.
  4. Challenge yourself not to repeat what a student says or validate their answer. Let their thoughts be their thoughts.
  5. Let them read! Partner read, echo read, choral reading and independent reading mean the students are doing the reading!

Turn And Talk

In chapters 3-5, one strategy jumped out at me over and over again: let them talk. Students cannot learn if they’re not talking, discussing, and having conversations.

turn and talk

In our classroom, this has been a game changer this year. Each year our district picks an area of literacy to focus on. This year it was comprehension which worked out great because that’s the area I knew I needed to work on. After lots of research and reading this idea that kids need to talk more clearly needed to be happening in my classroom. In fact, when creating our Read It Up! comprehension units, turn and talk is built into almost every activity.

Have A Conversation!

The idea is simple: the more the students talk, the more they learn. And it’s so simple. No prep. No copier to fight with. They just turn and discuss a page, a problem and solution, predictions, etc. After turn and talk, we share out. Implementing turn and talk, along with Read It Up! and being deliberate to include it in every comprehension lesson has made a noticeable impact on my students oral and written comprehension! And all we had to do was TALK!

Turn and talk ideas and tips:

  1. As with anything, you have to teach procedures, model expectations and practice.
  2. Ask a question or pose a discussion topic. Students turn to their partner and discuss.
  3. For partners, I simply have students turn to the person sitting next to them. This just simplifies the process and cuts out a step of teaching them to pick a partner.
  4. Monitor. I walk around and listen and sometimes push them to think differently or ask a pair a question to spur more discussion.
  5. Share out. Allow students to volunteer to share their discussions.

Create A Turn And Talk Anchor Chart

Our students need visuals. Create an anchor chart with your students about your turn and talk expectations. Display this in the classroom.

Here are some of my favorites from Pinterest:

Strategies That Work: Interactive Read Aloud

In kindergarten, teaching comprehension can feel impossible because our students are just learning to read. How do we teach them to comprehend when the reading part is just beginning? That’s where interactive read alouds come into play. Basically, every read aloud we do is an interactive read aloud.

Here’s what an interactive read alouds looks like:

  1. teacher has the text but students don’t have a copy
  2. studnets are listening, thinking, talking and using comprehension strategies
  3. decoding doesn’t interfere with comprehension because they’re listening to us read
  4. before beginning, activate their schema or background knowledge.

One way we activate schema with informational text is with a schema map! These are always done as part of our research projects. This is a great way to get students to share what they think or what they know about a topic!

As we read aloud the text during an interactive read aloud, we’re stopping to model our thinking, model how to use comprehension strategies and getting students to engage in using comprehension strategies! And this: research says the more students hear and read a story the more they comprehend. So don’t be afraid to re-read a story or parts of a story!

Here’s a video of an interactive read aloud in our classroom:

The Power Of Student Responses

Another powerful understand for me was the power of student responses. In the book, the authors state that student responses are the only way we can assess comprehension. And they don’t mean asking those questions at the end of a book or on the AR tests. Nope. They mean authentic student responses whether oral or written (or drawn). This has been another area that we really focused on in our Read It Up creations and in our classroom this year. In order to achieve this, we rely on the gradual release model. It looks something like this:

  1. Whole Group-interactive read aloud. We model a comprehension strategy and our thinking.
  2. Guided practice-Graphic organizer-completed whole group using turn and talk.
  3. Independent practice-student response with writing and/or drawing. Students share out and we can add to the graphic organizer as needed.
Whole group retell using turn and talk.

Student response to retell the story. After they draw they share out to their partner, the class or me.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let the clock dictate your comprehension instruction. So much of our day is dictated and micromanaged, but be willing to give your students the time they need to build their comprehension skills.

Share your passion for reading. Students will model our passion. If we love reading, that will rub off on the kids.

turn and talk
For more information and ideas on teaching reading comprehension, check out this post!

Make sure to visit Kindergarten Chaos to read her thoughts on chapter 3,4 and 5!

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