Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Time to Talk!

You wouldn't think that we would have to teach Kindergarteners HOW to talk...but we actually have standards that do just that!!

We can participate in conversations about kindergarten topics and texts with
peers and adults in small and larger groups.

We can follow rules for speaking and listening during conversations.

We can continue a conversation with multiple exchanges.

We can describe familiar people, places, things, and events and give details.

In Kindergarten, there is always talking, but teachers are given the task to stear the conversation so that the chatty friends are made to stop and listen...and the quiet friends are allowed opportunties to talk. In our classrooms, you'll see students pausing with their thinking faces on so that they'll have time to think about their answers to questions.  You'll then see friends sitting "eyes to eyes...knees to knees" with knees together, leaning in, engaged in conversation. 

During these talks, we should see one friend talking, then the other friend talking - both friends taking turns talking AND listening to the other.  We give 1-2 minutes for these exchanges during lessons.  There should be equal opportunities during these "talks".  We then allow time for students share their answers aloud.  We can always observe who is talking, but one way that we "check" to see that there is actually "listening" going on is to ask the friends to share their partner's thoughts to the question (i.e. My friend thought that...).  Using this strategy has really helped make good listeners in our classes.

You can help us with these important strategies by creating "A Time to Talk" in your own home.  Perfect opportunities for conversations are at the dinner table or when you're running errands in the car.  Ask your child questions about what is happening in class.  Encourange your child to answer in complete sentences (i.e. Parent: "What did you do in math today?"  Child:  common response:  "played" - more acceptable response: "I used cubes to make towers of 10"). 

Who could have imagined that Kindergarten standards would be specific about conversational rules.  We hope that these rules encourage fun visits at your house and that students take these rules with them for a lifetime of good friendships!