Friday, April 25, 2014

Turn and Talk

"Turn and talk" is a practice our teachers use frequently in the classroom. You may remember your elementary classroom days when the teacher would ask a question to the whole class, and one student who raised his/her hand would be called on to answer the question while the rest of the class sat passively. Fortunately, these days after a teacher poses a question to the class, the teacher often says "Turn and talk." All students then turn and face a partner and have a short, but lively, conversation, taking turns to share responses with one another. After "turn and talk" time, any student can be called upon by the teacher, and the student almost always responds accurately with confidence and enthusiasm. "Turn and talk" increases active student engagement in learning and improves comprehension. However, children are usually not automatically successful at "turn and talk". It takes time, instruction, effort and practice for children to learn how to have an interactive conversation--how to listen attentively, share a thought respectfully, ask a partner to share their thoughts, and provide a positive comment. With repetition and support from their teachers and parents, students become very successful, and "Turn and Talk" becomes a valuable strategy for learning and building positive relationships.

Watching the children have such lively intellectual conversations in the classrooms reminds me how important it is for us as adults to make it a priority to have frequent face-to-face communication, especially in this day and age where so many forms of electronic communication are right at our fingertips. As you can see, the Dryden PTA takes this notion to heart. It was such a treat to see so many families come out for breakfast and conversation at the Moms and Munchies Thursday morning! We thank the Dryden PTA for the lovely breakfast and opportunity for parents to "turn and talk".

Courageous, caring and respectful conversations help people learn about different points of view, find common ground and understand one another's positive intentions. They help us make decisions about or find solutions to "real-life" problems that don't have a clear right or wrong answer. I'm so proud that our students are learning to persist, grapple and cooperatively work through messy problems at an early age. And, I'm so grateful for the families and teachers who are willing to take the time to "turn and talk" with one another and with me about the tough but most important questions about raising our children to ensure their well-being and future success. Let's always make time to "turn and talk" !

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