3. Talk for learning
Why talk for learning is important
- those ideas are explored
- reasoning is developed and organized as such, so students learn more
Planning talk for learning activities in the classroom
Building on students’ talk
- listen to what students say
- appreciate and build on students’ ideas
- encourage the students to take it further
Encourage students to ask questions themselves
- entitle a section of your lesson ‘Hands up if you have a question’
- put a student in the hot-seat and encourage the other students to question that student as if they were a character, e.g. Pythagoras or Mirabai
- play a ‘Tell Me More’ game in pairs or small groups
- give students a question grid with who/what/where/when/why questions to practice basic inquiry
- give the students some data (such as the data available from the World Data Bank, e.g. the percentage of children in full-time education or exclusive breastfeeding rates for different countries), and ask them to think of questions you could ask about this data design a question wall listing the students’ questions of the week.
4. Using pair work
Why use pair work?
Tasks for pair work
Pair work tasks could include:
- ‘Think–pair–share’: Students think about a problem or issue themselves and then work in pairs to work out possible answers before sharing their answers with other students. This could be used for spelling, working through calculations, putting things in categories or in order, giving different viewpoints, pretending to be characters from a story, and so on.
- Sharing information: Half the class is given information on one aspect of a topic; the other half is given information on a different aspect of the topic. They then work in pairs to share their information in order to solve a problem or come to a decision.
- Practicing skills such as listening: One student could read a story and the other, ask questions; one student could read a passage in English, while the other tries to write it down; one student could describe a picture or diagram while the other student tries to draw it based on the description.
- Following instructions: One student could read instructions for the other student to complete a task.
- Storytelling or role play: Students could work in pairs to create a story or a piece of dialogue in a language that they are learning
Managing pairs to include all
- Manage the pairs that the students work in. Sometimes students will work in friendship pairs; sometimes they will not. Make sure they understand that you will decide the pairs to help them maximize their learning.
- To create more of a challenge, sometimes you could pair students of mixed ability and different languages together so that they can help each other; at other times, you could pair students working at the same level.
- Keep records so that you know your students’ abilities and can pair them together accordingly.
- At the start, explain the benefits of pair work to the students, using examples from family and community contexts where people collaborate.
- Keep initial tasks, brief and clear.
- Monitor the student pairs to make sure that they are working as you want.
- Give students roles or responsibilities in their pair, such as two characters from a story, or simple labels such as ‘1’ and ‘2’, or ‘As’ and ‘ Bs’). Do this before they move to face each other so that they listen.
- Make sure that students can turn or move easily to sit facing each other.