Monthly Archives: May 2015

Turn and Talks are a quick low-prep strategy for assessing students, having them share background knowledge or clarify thinking, and increasing student engagement. However, it doesn’t always work well. Sometimes it seems like, when asked to turn and talk, it is the only time students are quiet! Other times what they talk about is completely off- topic!

Here are some suggestions for making “Turn and Talk” more effective.

  1. Set a time limit.

A turn and talk shouldn’t last longer than a minute or two, or students will lose focus. Using a visual timer such as Online Stopwatch works even better. Most students (and teachers) don’t have a good sense of passing time while engaged in an activity.

  1. Use a sentence starter or sentence frame.

Tell students to use the starter to begin discussion. Sometimes“turn and talk” doesn’t work because students don’t know how to begin academic conversations.

  1. Try A-B Dyads.

A-B Dyads are a specific type of turn and talk. One student is named A, and one is B. Tell each student what they are to do. For example, you could say “Student A, discuss any word choices in the text that could reflect the tone. Student B, repeat student A’s words and add your own. Then provide a word that describes the tone, and provide a justification. Student A, offer your tone word and justification.”

If you’ve been frustrated by “Turn and Talks” in the past, don’t give up without trying one of these high-leverage strategies.