Thursday, September 4, 2014

Accountable Talk

As my reading instruction continues to evolve over the years, I keep adding new strategies to my "bag of tricks."  It's funny how I get ideas.  (Honestly, I very rarely have a completely original thought when I start to figure out a new strategy or a lesson I haven't implemented before.)  I recently told a first year teacher that one of the greatest gifts a teacher can have is to be a good synthesizer.  If she can learn to take all of this overload of information we are bombarded with and somehow synthesize it together and use it when it's appropriate and useful; then she will be able to continually add to her bag of tricks.

I'm adding to my bag of tricks.

For the past few years my 1st-3rd grade students have loved having "Nacho Karaoke" day once a month.  On the day the cafeteria serves nachos, I let them all eat in the classroom and we sing karaoke to songs with lyrics that I have saved from YouTube.

I'm reviewing my list of songs before this year's first Nacho Karaoke and was re-introduced to the song "Brave" by Sara Barielles.

As I paid attention to the lyrics, I really noticed the refrain this time: "Say what you wanna say.  I wanna see you be brave!"

I thought this would be a great way to introduce "Accountable Talk" to my students!  For the past few years, it's been challenging to teach children how to agree or disagree with a peer based on text evidence.  It can be hard to raise your hand and speak up during a group, especially if you are disagreeing with a friend.  However, when students DO engage in accountable talk, I have found that they truly start to engage with each other and the text in a purposeful and meaningful way.

My class has already set our essential agreements (rules) including one that states "We will be kind to each other."  With that as a foundation and also practice of the roles of "speaker" and "listener,"  I think we can use this song to talk about how important it is to speak up and "say what you wanna say" during an accountable talk discussion time.