Team Talk: Accountable Talk in the Classroom

What I love about third graders is the growth they make throughout the year, both academically and socially. It's a wonderful age and it's a great privilege each year to witness the transformation that our class goes through as they become more confident in themselves as learners.

Because they will often be so excited to share ideas or thoughts, they will often neglect whomever is speaking, just waiting for them to take a breath before they jump in. I admit, this is something I am guilty of, so that's probably why this strikes such a chord with me.

Team Talk

While I want my students to be vocal, I want to channel that in a way that is both respectful and constructive to our class discussions. One way that I have always found to work is through Accountable Talk. This type of talk builds upon what the speaker is saying first, then seeks clarification, adds additional information, suggests alternatives, etc.

While we teachers know this term well, I prefer to use the term "Team Talk" when we discuss it as a group. It encourages the community aspect of these conversations and is also much more third grade-friendly. It's more natural for me to say, "Let's remember to use Team Talk when we respond to so-and-so..." or "Let's use Team Talk with our partners today so they know they are being heard when they share their thinking."

Visual Cues

While encouraging this style of talking, both practice and visual cues are key, since many of these sentence stems are new or may not flow naturally with students just yet. Putting these 25+ stems on both posters displayed prominently on a bulletin board, as well as having a bucket full of these same cues, is so helpful to get them practicing and familiar with them in a variety of situations.

When engaging in Team Talk, students can look to the board to get ideas for responding, but can also preplan their responses by pulling a popsicle stick with a stem they would like to use in the conversation.

While this may seem scripted or not authentic, I have found that it is both a welcome support for students who need a bit more help in speaking and listening, and can also challenge some of my naturally verbose students to hone their questions and choose their words a bit more carefully.

Team Talk Resource Pack

Ideally, I would love to hear students engaging in these Accountable Talk-style conversations each time we meet in small groups to discuss a book, or when they meet with a partner to talk about a math strategy. But in reality, if they can incorporate just a select few into their lexicon so they can be better listeners, conversationalists, and friends (because what makes a better friend than a better listener?), I'm thrilled!

To pick up this resource or learn more, you can find it in my TpT Store HERE. Be sure to download a preview to see more.

Enjoy incorporating these ideas into your classroom and I hope conversations grow deeper and more engaging with the help of these simple, yet powerful, Team Talk resources!

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