Turn and Talk
Student partners respond and discuss ideas prompted by a focus question provided by the teacher.
What It Is
Turn and Talk is an oral language support strategy that provides students with scaffolded interactions to formulate ideas and share their thinking with another student. This strategy encourages a high level of pupil response and participation helps students sustain their focus.
How It Works
After the teacher asks a question, have students turn to a preselected partner and discuss their thinking about the question.
Students can share with the rest of the group what they said, what their partner said, or the teacher can pass on the group share. It is not necessary to share out from every interaction.
Considerations for Use
Several classroom routines need to be set in place to facilitate the use of the Turn and Talk strategy:
Decide on which children would pair effectively and assign partners. Students can come to the whole or small group experience with their preselected partner.
Set up a signal for the Turn and Talk exchange.
Practice both sharing out and not sharing out after the partner discussion.
Decide when the sharing out will support understanding and when the discussion in partners is sufficient.
Be willing to change partners based on observations as well as normal events such as the absence of one member of a pair.
Why It Works
Soliciting responses to teacher questions often limits discussion. Students either choose not to respond or the same students respond and teachers call on those students to move the discussion along and get the “right” answer. When classroom participation structures are used they foster oral language development with peer talk and interaction being key. The social speech structure also provides effective classroom management but the key goal is oral language development with peer supported talk.
When this structure is used, almost all students have a chance to share their thinking in a low-risk setting. Verbalizing their thinking scaffolds students understanding and provides talk at a peer level using a model close to the language the student controls.
Things To Keep In Mind
This is an easy participation structure to establish and use in the full range of settings in classroom instruction in all content areas. The Turn and Talk provides for the prevalent social speech of peers to become part of the regular classroom procedures.
Observing during the times students are engaged in peer talk is an excellent opportunity to join a pair and then notice who is talking, how the pair is working, and quickly assess the learning about the content that is being discussed.