Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels,
each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels,
and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Grand Conversations!

Talking with other students is a great way for students to think at higher levels, and apply what they are learning.  Connie Forrester describes one of her favorite activities:  Grand Conversations. Similar to Socratic Circles, take a look at her particular use of the method.
 “I would usually introduce this strategy in October during our Unit of Study on non-fiction.  To introduce the strategy, I would ask the children if they knew what the word conversation meant.  After some discussion, one child would usually come up with the fact that conversation is talking.  I would go on to tell the children that Grand Conversations are one strategy that the big kids use when they talk about books.  I would explain the ground rules to the children.  You would be amazed how quickly the children catch on and how much they enjoy this strategy.  They would beg to use it after we had read a book.  However, I found Grand Conversations worked best when used after a non-fiction text.”
Ground Rules for Grand Conversations
1-    One person talks at a time
2-    When you respond to a classmate, you make a comment, ask a question, or make a connection.  Your response must match the previous person’s train of thought.  (For instance, if we were having a conversation about a spider’s habitat and the next child began discussing what he had for dinner last night, the first child could pick someone else)
3-    No one raises his or her hands.  I explain to the children that when people have conversations no one raises their hands. (We would either toss a beach ball to the person to talk or the child would sit up very straight to be recognized.)

One of the interesting aspects of this activity--Connie teaches Kindergarten.  It's never too early to teach students to have higher level conversations!

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