When you ask your class a question, how many students can answer? Too often, says Rebecca, only one. The student you call on will engage while the others sit passively. But with turn and tell, every student is engaged and at least half of them are required to talk. Rebecca describes the benefits of turn and tell, the reasons to use it, and little techniques that make it work in your classroom.
Rebecca: What was Raphaelle Peale known to do? Turn and tell. What is it? Say it together.
Students: Still life.
One of my favorite teaching tools is using turn and tell in my classroom. It’s a good review, and you can get it done quickly and a lot of students are involved.
You ask the question to the whole class, maybe 10 people out of 20 raise their hands, but only one’s answering. And that leaves 19 people out of the story. So if you have turn and tell, you have at least 10 people talking, if not 20.
Basically you have two students, you have them paired up. And then you can do three students in a group if you wish, if you have odd number or such like. They know their partners, they know where they’re going, and you say, “Turn and tell.” And they’re just right at it. You want them to be able to do it quickly and also quietly, because if they’re not quiet, you’re going to have a lot of hubbub in your classroom, and it’ll just kind of wreck the culture you want to create.
It also gives students a way to formulate what they’re learning. They have a chance to talk about what they’re hearing, and they need to put it into their own words. And then on the other side of that, it helps students listen.
It also gives us a good way to get students to interact with each other, and do that in healthy ways with content and interacting with each other.
One way I use it a lot is to get the stronger students to help the weaker students. If you ask a question, cold call to one of your students that you want to pull in with what you’re teaching, and they just don’t know. You ask question after question, and they’re, “Uh, uh…” Just quickly turn and tell, and the whole classroom starts to talk, the stronger student beside them is going to help that weaker student. You can still come back to that weaker student, and they can give your answer and they can be successful.
I tell them to discuss and they discuss it. They come back and they, hopefully, have a better answer than they were thinking of by themselves. I especially use that one when I ask a question and I’m getting blank stares from everyone. Well, I don’t want to change my question, because I like my question, and so I get them to turn and tell, and they discuss, and sometimes they come up with a weak answer, but it’s better than nothing.
I can usually stem off of that weak answer, turn another question to them, and then I ask that question and I don’t need to use a turn and tell again, because there’s hands going up this time.
So, some of the tools I use for turn and tell are motions, so turn and tell, I just quickly do a hand motion, they know they should do it. If they’re not getting the motion, they don’t see it, I just go, “Turn and tell, and quickly.”
Rebecca: Who was are third artist? Turn and tell. I told a story about him, who was it? Meghan.
Megan: Albrecht Durer.
Rebecca: Albrecht Durer.
Another thing for calling them back, I will snap my hand and just hold it up here. They should be turning and looking as soon as they hear that. Another way I get students to come back for turn and tell is to go, “Tch, tch, tch.”
Rebecca: Tch, tch. What was the original name of New York?
And when they’re coming back, it’s not acceptable to be looking down at their table or such like.
Some different ways I use the turn and tell is for discussion questions.
Rebecca: Take two minutes and brainstorm what you would like to do, okay? You may turn and talk with your people around you or such like, what you could do.
Another technique I use for turn and tell is to have them take turns talking. So the person nearest to the wall will talk first, and I tell them, “Person nearest to the wall, say the answer,” and they’re saying the answer. That way you don’t have the same person in the group always talking, you have all those people on that side of the room talking. And then the next question, “Person nearest to the windows, say your answer,” and they’ll do their answer. That way you have everyone involved and not only the stronger students are talking all the time, you have weaker students talking too.
Rebecca: What was he known for? Caleb and Merlin, what was he known for?
Caleb and Merlin: The praying hands.
I do it because it’s a good way to get students involved, like I said before, a very quick review and they can interact with the content in ways that they can’t otherwise.
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CONTRIBUTOR: Rebecca Beiler