This Literacy Routine addresses the following questions:
How do I get my reluctant students talking?
How can I make sure students are talking on task?
How do I get students to use academic language?
How to implement Let's Talk in your classroom:
Remind students of Let’s Talk procedures.
Students need a structure, a purpose, and accountability for their academic conversations. Two versatile structures are Think-Pair-Share and Numbered Heads Together. Post your procedures for a few go-to structures and practice them regularly. Establish and reinforce norms for protecting the talk time of reluctant speakers, such as Two Before Me.
Plan and post conversation questions and stems.
Decide when during your lesson students will need to process new content or retrieve prior knowledge. Compose open-ended questions* and matching sentence stems to guide students’ conversations. Choose questions and stems carefully, since different questions promote different kinds of thinking.
Guide students to use academic language.
Model how to respond to questions incorporating the sentence stem. Set expectations for speaking in complete sentences and using academic language by reminding and recasting (rephrasing subtly without requiring student repetition).
Implement the Q3SA strategy.
John Seidlitz introduces Q3SA in Sheltered Instruction Plus (Seidlitz & Perryman, 2008). This is an effective, flexible strategy for structuring academic conversations:
Question: Post and introduce an open-ended question.
Signal: Prompt students to signal (e.g., thumbs up) when they are “ready to finish this sentence …”
Stem: Provide a sentence stem to match the question.
Provide students wait time or thinking time. Wait for 100%* of students to signal before continuing.
Share: Instruct students to discuss with their partners for a set amount of time using the stem.
Assess: Call on students at random to share then check for agreement from others.
Monitor Let’s Talk conversations.
During student conversations, move among pairs or groups, listening in and prompting if students are stuck or off topic. Make note of student participation.
Coach students to clarify and paraphrase.
Teach students prompts they can use to clarify and expand on their peers’ comments. Model paraphrasing and clarifying, then have students practice using phrases such as, “So what I hear you saying is …,” “Can you tell me more about …,” and “I agree with your idea that …”