How turn and talks can support even your most reluctant participants
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As teachers, we often find ourselves looking for ways to engage our students in the classroom. Turn and talks are an effective and low-stakes way of getting students to engage with the material and each other–and can help support even the most reluctant participants in the classroom.

At its core, a turn and talk is a strategy in which two or more students are asked to discuss a topic together, usually for a few minutes. It can be done in a variety of ways, from students sharing their thoughts with each other in pairs to a larger group discussion. It is a great way to get students to think critically about a topic and engage in meaningful conversation.

When using turn and talks in the classroom, it is important to remember that each student is unique and may need different levels of support and encouragement. Here are a few tips to help ensure that even the most reluctant participants are supported:

1. Use Strategic Partnering: When assigning partners for a turn and talk, consider pairing up students who can help each other. For example, if you have an outgoing student, pair them up with a more reserved student. This can help create a more comfortable environment and can encourage the quieter student to engage more.

2. Use Student Interests to Engage: Students are more likely to engage if the topic is one that interests them. If you are discussing a particular book, consider assigning roles to students so that they can each discuss a different aspect or character. This can help make the discussion more engaging and can help the more reluctant students to become more involved.

3. Offer Choice of Speaking or Writing: Some students may be more comfortable expressing their thoughts in writing rather than verbally. Consider offering the choice of speaking or writing. Students should still participate within the discussion, however, instead of sharing out verbally at the end, they can write down their thoughts or those of a peer.

4. No Opt Out: It is important to make sure that all students participate in the turn and talk. Make sure to clearly communicate that everyone needs to be an active participant. Allowing students the choice of writing, also allows an avenue for all students to participate.

5. Warm Calling: Finally, use warm calling to make sure that all students are participating in the discussion. This can be done by simply asking each student in the group to share their thoughts on the topic. If you have reluctant participants, letting them know during the discussion that you’re going to call on them or by motivating them by an answer you’ve heard in the discussion allows them time to prepare to share out.

Turn and talks are a great way to get students to engage in meaningful conversations and can be an effective tool for supporting even the most reluctant participants. Give these tips a try and enjoy!

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