With the implementation of the Common Core Standards, student discourse has become an essential part of everyday instruction. While I always created opportunities for my students to talk in the classroom, I have decided to really focus even more on effective collaborative conversations this year.
We have just completed our fifth week of school and my students have already shown growth with their listening and speaking skills. We started our collaborative conversations on day one and learned the routines we use for partner talk on the carpet.
I first taught the students how to turn to their partner. I explained they need to turn quickly, and quietly. They learned how to sit knee to knee and we talked about the importance of "Look, Lean, and Listen" when speaking with a partner.
I then introduced "Peanut Butter and Jelly" roles. I have a large peanut butter sign on one wall and a large jelly sign on the other wall. When the students turn to their partner, the poster reminds them if they are the peanut butter or jelly partner. I teach this by saying "If you see the jelly sign when you turn to your partner, then you are the jelly partner. If you see the peanut butter sign, then you are the peanut butter partner."
Once the students know what body language to use and their partner role, I talk about communicating with complete sentences. The kindergarten teachers did a fabulous job implementing this and it was evident that these students have practiced speaking in complete sentences.
I created posters for my classroom to help remind my students about the things they need to do while taking part in collaborative conversations. Check them out here!
I also use partnerships during guided reading and when students are seated at their desks. To help my students understand their partner role, I have created color coded peanut butter and jelly labels. These have been excellent not only for partner talk, but the colors allow for randomization when calling on students. Check them out here!
As our year progresses, I will continue to write about our collaborative conversation experiences!