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How to Teach Discussion to Kids Who Don’t Talk Much | For Teachers

How to Teach Discussion to Kids Who Don’t Talk Much | For Teachers

Today I want to talk about the difference between a response and discussion, and how to teach your kids how to actually have a discussion. 

A response is simply an answer to a question, while a discussion is a back-and-forth dialogue with one or more other people about a topic. 

So when you’re teaching kids how to have a discussion, you need to teach them to do three things: 

  1. How to give quality comments and contribute to the conversation using complete sentences and the language of the text or the conversation piece that they’re discussing. 
  1. How to give text dependent responses and use the text that they’ve read prior to the discussion in their response and root their discussion in that text. 
  1. How to actively listen! We need to teach kids to not just listen so they can say the next thing, but to actually listen to what the other person is saying, pick up the most relevant information, and then respond. 

And that’s how you teach discussion!

For more help and tips on how to engage your students in discussion, check out this book:

  • How to Teach Students to Critically Think About Text 

Books can be found on amazon.com or at our store.

How to Teach Discussion to Kids Who Don’t Talk Much | For Teachers

Lesson Planning Hack | For Teachers & Coaches

I used to lesson plan like this: think about what I want the kids to do, what I would be doing, and what I’d want them to turn in at the end – pretty traditional lesson planning, right? 

But there’s a better way! One that saves time, energy, and frustration. 

Now I start lesson planning by asking myself, ‘What mistakes do I know, or expect, my kids to make? And how can I fix those before even getting into the lesson?’

I focus on fixing up the common mistakes or trip up points that kids will likely have and then getting into teaching the lesson. It might sound like, ‘Hey guys, today I’m gonna teach you how to do [blank], but here are some mistakes you’re likely to make. So first I’m going to show you how to not make those mistakes.’

And then I get into the lesson! It works like a charm. 

For more help and tips on how to de-stress lesson planning, check out these books:

Books can be found on amazon.com or at our store.

How to Teach Discussion to Kids Who Don’t Talk Much | For Teachers

Teach the Formula, Not Just the Recipe | For Teachers

Recently, I learned the difference between a recipe and a formula: 

A recipe is all the pieces and parts that you need in order to make something. 

A formula, however, is all the pieces and parts you need to make something and the order in which you should use those parts and pieces to get the best result.

I couldn’t help but connect that analogy to our writing instruction. We teach a lot of little nitty gritty things to kids when it comes to writing, but are we doing it in a way that teaches them how to do things in the right order and get a great result every time? 

With writing instruction, we need to give the kids the recipe, but we also really need to focus our teaching around the formula and how to put all the parts together so they get the best result again and again. 

For more help and tips on how to simplify teaching writing, check out these books:

Books can be found on amazon.com or at our store.

How to Teach Discussion to Kids Who Don’t Talk Much | For Teachers

How to Build Trust with Teachers | For Coaches, District Leaders, & Team Leaders

Whether you’re an experienced coach or brand new to the job, we all need some tricks of the trade that allow us to build relationships with teachers. Here are three that I think will serve you well: 

  1. Have a process for coaching! A lot of the struggle that teachers have with coaching is they don’t know what to expect. If you can say to them ahead of time, ‘Here’s what’s going to happen before, during, and after the coaching cycle,’ they’ll know what to expect and that will help them feel a lot more confident and comfortable. 
  1. Vary your approach! Some teachers are experienced and need to be coached into coaching other teachers, or maybe you can use their classroom as a demo room to bring another teacher who’s inexperienced in a particular area. That form of coaching helps your experienced teachers feel like they really bring value to the table, which they do! 
  1. How do you go with your gut? If you’re feeling like things are funky with the teacher, talk to them about it. Don’t just try to work through it by not discussing it. 

For more help and tips on how to improve your coaching practice, check out these books:

Books can be found on amazon.com or at our store.

How to Teach Discussion to Kids Who Don’t Talk Much | For Teachers

Read New Text Aloud | For Teachers

One common question from teachers in kindergarten all the way through 12th grade is, 

“I’m reading a new piece of text with my kids. Should I do it as a read aloud first off so they can do the thinking about the text or do I have the kids read the text on their own?”

My answer is always to have the kids read it on their own first – but with help. 

When we take away kids’ opportunities to read text organically from the beginning, we’re taking away the opportunity to practice how to handle text. Part of the reason we should be reading so much in classes is not just do you read the text, but are you able to read new text? 

Instead of just giving text to kids and saying read it, I’ll break it up into chunks and say, ‘Okay, we’re gonna read the first three paragraphs, note this particular word,’ or ‘I’m going to have you read the next page and I want you to notice how the author does this, or pay attention to that.’

I don’t leave them on their own, but I give them a structured first read of the text together. 

For more help and tips on how to improve your teaching practice, check out the book:

Books can be found on amazon.com or at our store.

How to Teach Discussion to Kids Who Don’t Talk Much | For Teachers

Why Reading Interventions Usually Fail | For Teachers, Coaches, Principals, & District Leaders

When reading interventions fail, or don’t work like we want them two, experience has taught me that it’s usually for two main reasons. Today I want to share those reasons with you so that you don’t stumble into the same pitfalls! 

  1. Its focus is too broad. The group is formed to work on something like phonics – that is not nearly specific enough! They need to be working on our controlled vowels or variant vowels and diphthongs or whatever it is that’s very specific to learning phonics.
  1. It lasts way too long! Reading intervention becomes a life sentence, instead of a 15-20 day cycle of providing instruction on various specific things so that we can measure whether it’s working or not. Students should not be in intervention groups forever because it means that the instruction is not working.

I hope you look at those two things in terms of your own intervention and consider what you can change today that will make your intervention better even tomorrow.

For more help and tips on how to do a successful reading intervention, check out the book:

Books can be found on amazon.com or at our store.