Saturday, November 29, 2014

Talk Less, Listen & Facilitate Thinking More

Educational Leadership  TALKING & LISTENING—November 2014

If given the opportunity I would jump at the chance to work with Kim Marshall. Every week he reads and summarizes key publications submitted by those well respected in the educational community. He publishes a summary known as Marshall Memos. They are an invaluable resource to busy educators who want to learn and do more to facilitate teaching and learning effectively. They are quick and easy reads with meaningful takeaways.

I will try and mirror his style with my summary of the November 2014 issue of Educational Leadership, Talking & Listening. In this latest issue the Editor in Chief, Margaret M. Scherer opens the conversation to the reader by asking an important question, “How can we make sure that we realize all the benefits of effective talking and listening?” (pg. 7). Here are some of my favorite responses from featured articles.

In Talking to Learn, Elizabeth A. City states, “I want schools to be place of rich learning, and therefore I want them to be places of rich talk” (pg. 13). Practiced group protocols will enrich the discussion and bring everyone into the conversation.  Varied text can support new thinking, but can also include other median such as art, music, and cartoons, to enrich the conversation. “Some of my happiest, most rewarding moments as an educator have been hearing what comes out of learn mouths when I get out of the way” (pg. 14).

Fisher and Frey in Speaking Volumes help educators move from good to great. “When there’s a balance in the classroom between student and teacher discourse, good things happen. When students assume increased responsibility for discussion, when they interact with a wide range of peers on diverse topics, and supply evidence for their thinking great things happen” (pg. 19). My personal ah-ha came from their thoughts on, “Talking to facilitate reading and writing development” (pg. 21). They quoted James Britton who in 1970 stated “Reading and writing float on a sea of talk” (Britton, 1970, p. 164). His research aligns with current thinking today. If we focused on our student’s language development, it supports their ability to read and write—well.

Now Presenting by Erik Palmer helps us to remember to value communication and increase what we expect of our students. “We assign speaking, but we don’t teach speaking” (pg. 27). Model and teach what you expect and, “Let students know that you value oral communication every time they speak” (pg. 27).

From Mindless to Meaningful Laura Billings and Terry Roberts show us how whole group discussions can be meaningful activities for students to share their thinking. This requires the teacher to be cognitively prepared with planned questions at the beginning, middle, and end of the discussion. “Teachers set the stage for a meaningful discussion when they select and use a tangible human artifact—or text—that represents key values and ideas” (pg. 62). Not only do these planned session provide students opportunities to talk, but ultimately they are skills needed for the workplace and life.

Finally in All the Time They Need, by Ellin Oliver Keene I learned the most important concept. “If we want students to think at high levels, we’re going to have to give them a little time. And we’re going to have to get comfortable with silence (pg. 67).  Keene provides the reader with tips on how to hold your tongue and key points to remember when holding out for students to decide what their brain wants to say (pg. 69).

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