I was watching this video from Annenberg Media today. It’s Katherine Bomer, a favorite author of mine, teaching and talking about her read aloud time. It is packed with rich and exciting learning opportunities. One of the things she mentions in the video is setting up structures to help make room for quiet voices in the classroom. She shows how she has students meeting with talking partners during the read aloud time so that they can respond and react. For many students participating in a large group is overwhelming. Usually those dominant students will jump in and everyone else either gets a free pass or doesn’t get a chance. So I started thinking about some of my own practices and how I’m enabling my quieter students to participate.
Turn and Talks: One thing I learned from Stephanie Harvey is use turn and talks and use them often. These short opportunities to talk to a classmate give quieter students an in-road into the conversations. They also engage all students in being present in the lesson.
Small Group Work: I’ve spent a lot of time working with students on developing guidelines and practicing for small group work, especially literature circles. I have a goal setting system in place as well as a self-reflection system so that students can work on their part in small groups. This is a constant work in progress as students develop and mature, and as groups change. Every new group has its own challenges based on the students in it so I am always revisiting and revising how I’m helping students learn to cooperate and collaborate.
Written Response, Silent Dialogue: Sometimes it’s easier for students to write their thinking and respond to others’ written thoughts. This gives them time to formulate their ideas in a way that makes sense to them. This can be used between partners or small groups in a notebook or piece of paper, or as a gallery walk around the room.
Personal Written Response: In the video I mention Katherine Bomer finishes her read aloud time by having students write some thinking in their notebook to bring to the next class discussion. She gives them several prompts; “What you’re wondering or what you’re predicting or what you’re dying to say right now.” I haven’t used this with my read aloud and I am definitely going to try it. I’m thinking that if students have a comment written down they will be more likely to offer a response during a large group setting.
How do you make room for quiet voices in your classroom?
If you want to watch the video you will need to create a login. The videos are free.