Turn and Talk: Where the Magic Happens

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Do you ever wish there was a way to engage all of your kids simultaneously in the task you’re completing? What if I told you there is a “magic” technique. Would you believe me? Well, Turn and Talk is that “magic” technique! I can tell you first-hand, it changed the atmosphere and level of engagement in my classroom.

If you’ve never heard this phrase, you may be wondering what I’m talking about!

In its most basic terms, Turn and Talk is simply having your kiddos turn and talk to one another, but there are a few more tidbits of information you need before you try to implement it. You need to understand why Turn and Talk is imperative, and how to introduce it and use it effectively.

Why Turn and Talk?

As with any new concept or technique, you need to know why you are putting this into action! Never just do something because it is the “latest and greatest.” Understanding the reason for trying and teaching new things is as important as the implementation.

So, what makes turn and talk so valuable?

1. Kids develop appropriate speaking & listening skills.

Whether you have kiddos in elementary, middle, or high school, they need to know how to work with a partner. Everyone likes to be heard, and this is the perfect platform for giving your kiddos that opportunity.

2. Learners get to experience being the teacher.

We would probably all agree we learn more when we teach a skill than we do when we just passively hear it. When kids are discussing the questions they’ve been given, and helping their partner understand their position on the matter, they are teaching.

3. Students learn how to disagree & debate respectfully in a safe environment.

We all have our own opinions about things, and that is ok. Unfortunately, some kiddos (and many adults) have a hard time disagreeing with others about anything. However, disagreeing and debating different ideas doesn’t have to be disrespectful. By teaching kids this skill we’re actually giving them an empowering gift. They will use it when they need to stand up for themselves or others, and it will serve them well throughout their lives.

Turn and Talk in Action

Turn and Talk strategy

Now that you know why you’re teaching this skill, you need to know what it looks like in action! Generally speaking, you are going to provide your kiddos with a topic or question, and they will have a conversation with a partner about the question.

However, as with any activity involving discussion, you need to have certain management techniques in place. Whether you are working with 2 kids or 30 kids, you need to teach them HOW to talk during this time.

Trust me, you have to actually TEACH this skill.

Whenever I introduced it, I would always make sure we discussed what being a good partner meant. My kiddos found out it was just as important to listen as it was to be heard. Also, each person needed to share.

As you would expect, it helped my talkers become better listeners, and it helped my quiet kiddos learn to be better speakers. Ironically, it also helped my talkers learn how to become better speakers by staying on task with the topic. Knowing they had a limited amount of speaking time helped them focus on the most important facts.

Typically, when I introduced this concept, I would give the kids a letter A or B. I would explain that when I said “Turn and Talk”, my A’s would share, and my B’s would listen. Then when I said “Switch,” my B’s would share, and my A’s would listen.

Obviously, it didn’t take long for them to understand what being a good partner meant, and after practicing a few times they got the idea.

Turn and Talk in the Classroom

How to use turn and talk in the classroom

I might ask questions like, “What is one fact you can remember from the story? What was the problem the main character faced? Summarize the story for your partner. Turn and Talk.” Then they would turn and talk with their partners for an allotted amount of time.

(In the classroom, to cut down on discipline issues, I would assign partners. Typically, I partnered kiddos based on differences…talkers with non-talkers, higher with lower, etc.) They always enjoyed this time because they were actually allowed to talk, and I always enjoyed it because I could hear the discussions.

To complete this activity, I always had my kiddos share their findings with the whole group. This gave us more opportunities to discuss why certain groups chose specific answers. It was a great time for the kiddos to learn from each other.

Turn and Talk in Your Homeschool

Obviously, this is a little different in our homeschool, but I still have the boys share their findings with me. It gives them an opportunity to explain their perspectives to each other, and then to me.

If you have more than two children, they will really enjoy having an opportunity to discuss things with each other one-on-one. So many times, we tend to lump all of our kiddos together to complete certain subjects, but using this technique is a great way to make sure everyone is heard.

Do you encourage talking during school through class discussions? If you're like most teachers, you're trying to keep the talking to a minimum so that you can teach. But, did you know that implementing Turn and Talk activities could actually help the children in your class? Find out what makes this technique so useful and how partners are critical. #teachingtechniques #homeschooling #classroommanagement

Turn and Talk is an amazing technique that is super-simple to introduce and use daily. You will find that your kiddos will love the opportunity to talk, and even more importantly, you will love it because you will have control over the subject and duration of the talking.

Now that you know the positive effect it will have on your kiddos, you have no reason to wait! Try it today, and then let me know how your kids did with it.