Quiet classrooms = student engagement

T.V. portrays the ideal elementary school classroom as a teacher directed environment with a lecturette instruction format and students recording notes quietly until someone disrupts the room with snoring. Heck, that description was what some of my elementary school experiences looked like. Are students engaged during a 60 min. teacher directed lesson? Does completing a worksheet or 5 demonstrate mastery of a strategy or skill?

Let’s be real, teachers. Accountable talk, academic chattiness, should be included in your instruction! Students do not magically know how to have an academic conversation so teach them! Over the last couple months, my colleagues and I have integrated conversation roundtable into our practices in efforts to promote academic conversations in our classrooms. Teachers should not be the only ones doing the talking.

In a nutshell, conversation roundtable is a strategy to promote higher order thinking when exploring a topic in class. Conversation roundtable consists of a four-square graphic organizer that can be labeled according to what you are learning. Students fill out the graphic organizer to process content and use as a pre-convo/post convo. tool. Visit this link for Tim Burke’s conversation roundtable graphic organizer and click the second link to learn how to use the strategy. http://www.englishcompanion.com/pdfDocs/crtable.pdf


My Conversation Roundtable Display- Standards posted, question listed, rubric posted

Below I’ve included work samples of my students’ conversations. My students and I did a shared reading of a TeenBiz 3000 article entitled, “Drilling for Energy,” a text about how geothermal energy is being used in some parts of the country. Students responded to a before reading poll: Should the government create laws requiring states to use geothermal energy? After a close read of the text, student responded to the poll via conversation roundtable. In their first box, students responded to the thought question with evidence from the text. The second box required student to identify advantages and disadvantages of geothermal energy. The last two boxes required students to summarize two of their classmates talking points. Students referred to their accountable talk stems when engaging in a dialogue with peers.


Student Work Sample 1

ImageI created a quick rubric using Rubistar, but I also attached a rubric my colleagues use…Her rubric is much more thorough. Also, here are some accountable talk stems that were shared with me  by an instructional coach in my district. I printed them on colorful paper and laminated a class set for my students. Funny Bunny only charges $2 for such a useful resource!


My super simple rubric



My colleague’s more detailed rubric



Happy Chatting,

Ms. G




2 thoughts on “[Chatty]

  1. Omg, I love my kiddos! During Saturday Academy, my little “Daniel” asked, “Where are those accountable talk stems? This guy wants to have debate about the central idea and I need to win!” I’m not making this up, these two scholars had an academic conversation using accountable talk stems that we have practiced using during conversation roundtable. It’s awesome to see my student transfer strategies across content areas!

  2. Pingback: [Trivia Playing] | Diary of a(n) [insert here] Teacher

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