This Tuesday, the Redefine team met for the first time. Most of the time, we talked NOT about technology, but about getting students COMMUNICATING! Giving students the chance to talk in class can be scary, especially if we are coming from the days where a quiet, orderly classroom was considered “excellent” teaching (as a teacher OR as a student ourselves). If you do a quick google search of “get students talking”, JUST as many hits come up about getting students to STOP talking (as if google thinks we forgot a word!).
The Redefine team is going to be digging deeper into this issue of getting students communicating next month. However, here are a few things to consider as you think about your own class:
- Where are you positioned in your classroom? Are you always in the front? If you are, that may be telling students that communication needs to be funneled through you. Do you feel comfortable moving around the classroom and giving over some of the “control” of the conversation to the students?
- How is your classroom set up? If we want to teach students how to communicate, we need to let them talk to each other! Is your room set up that allows for students to easily communicate with each other? My room was set up in rows, and every time I wanted to get students talking, we were wasting class time rearranging the desks. I have now reorganized my classroom into pods, and getting students communicating is much easier.
- What kind of questions are you asking students? Sometimes, I find myself asking many “right there” questions that do not necessitate discussion. How can we incorporate questions into our lessons that NEED to be talked about (instead of ones that just need to be looked up!). This week, I created a discussion stems that my students are using to write their own discussion questions. As they spend time in their groups analyzing the questions before we discuss as a class, they are learning what makes a good discussion question and what does not.
As you can see, none of this needs you to be using technology because the 21st century classroom means much more than devices and trends.
Thanks for reading!