What Is Class Talk?
Many teachers and parents are concerned about their child’s talking habits in the classroom. They worry that too much chat is a sign of low interest or motivation and can interfere with learning. They also fear that it will be a source of trouble or cause discipline problems.
It is difficult for teachers to know exactly what is considered too much talk or too little chat in a classroom. But what we know is that too much talk in the classroom has a negative impact on students’ academic performance.
One way to reduce the volume of students’ talking is to tell them what it means to be quiet in the classroom before every change in activity. Explain to them that when you do group work, they should be able to talk with each other without disrupting the task at hand, but when you do independent work, no talking is allowed.
Another way to address student chat is by creating a document with mutually agreed-upon rules for the classroom. This helps to build trust in the classroom, and it will make it easier for you to remind students of those rules.
Create Conversation Roles
When your students are preparing for a group work or discussion, provide them with talking guidelines, roles, and tools. This might include sentence stems, which are starting phrases that help them complete their thoughts in a full sentence. They can use these when they’re talking to partners, or even when they’re sharing their own ideas.
This is especially important for students who may have difficulty forming their thoughts in full sentences, or who might not understand how to talk about their learning in an effective manner. Providing students with these guidelines and tools can also help to create an environment that is conducive to conversation, says Amy Gaunt, a teacher at School 21 in San Diego.
Using visuals can also be helpful in organizing conversations and identifying the role that a student plays, according to School 21 teachers. For example, in a math lesson about time measurements, teachers put images of different measurement scales on a chart with sentence stems that partners can use to discuss the information.
In a history class, they have students read an article about Ancient Greece and use Ghost Reading, a tool that lets them talk about a text in groups of three, says Gaunt. She also uses Talk Tasks, structured activities that allow students to talk about their learning within a specific lesson.
Asking more questions during lessons has a positive impact on how students learn, educators say. Research shows that asking open-ended questions can engage and inspire students, and it can boost their test scores.
It’s important for teachers to plan their lessons around this strategy, and to have a good understanding of what kinds of questions students might want to answer. This will allow them to prepare for the right questions and make sure they aren’t wasting their time on irrelevant topics or answers.