Sunday, February 2, 2014

Bright Ideas Blog Hop

I am so excited to be a part of this fabulous blog hop that is all about great ideas that you can use in your classroom starting tomorrow.  Nothing to print or buy…just bright ideas that will spark the best in you, and your students.

Before we get to my idea, I just want to send a massive "THANK YOU," to the indefatigable, and amazing, Shelley from Teaching in the Early Years.  It is thanks to all of her hard work that all these Bright Ideas came together in one place.

My bright idea is all about getting our kids to engage in more meaningful classroom discussions.  I know at my school there is a huge emphasis on this.  

Just two years ago, I HATED having my kids "turn and talk," but it was required in all of our lessons.  I complained that it chopped up the flow of my lessons, and the kids conversations were just not deep.  But, something happened for me a year ago, and I have not looked back.  My kids are talking up a storm, and their conversations are meaningful and lively.  I LOVE it!  Here are some tips that have made all the difference in my classroom.

Set, model, and post clear expectations for what "turn and talk" time looks and sounds like. Here is the chart I have up in our meeting area. We go over these everyday!

I work with mostly ELL's and I find it helpful to be super explicit about the kind of language I want to hear during our discussion times.  So, I have anchor charts galore in my classroom, to help scaffold our discussions. 

I usually add one stem at a time, to our Partner Talk poster.  This lets kids have time to try it on, before adding another.  I make a really big deal when I hear students using these.  It encourages everyone else to take a risk, too.

The first three stems above, are awesome, and really encourage kids to think and talk. (P.S. - Did you catch the "teachable moment" to teach the prefix dis- above?  Take that, Common Core!)

More sentence stems for a recent unit of study on heroes.  A good sentence stem will help students express their ideas without telling them what to think.

My ELL students really had a tough time with syntax when asking questions.  This quick little question words chart has really helped.  They now know that most questions start with question words.  Being able to ask thoughtful questions has really improved the quality of discussions going on in my classroom.

All these little tweaks in the classroom really make a big difference, and help students keep conversations going.  There you have it.  Hope you found something to spark great discussions in your classroom.


Feeling crafty?  Hop on over to KinderAlphabet by Lidia to find out how to make some adorable No Sew Chair Pockets! Um, yes please!  Click on her button.

Kinder Alphabet
Alternatively, you may visit the link-up below and choose a topic that interests you. 

You can also see all of these great ideas by visiting The Bright Ideas Blog Hop Pinterest page

Thanks so much for visiting. 


  1. Love, love, LOVE! :) I'm going to implement this on MONDAY! :0) We turn and talk all the time, but...I always felt that I needed a wee bit more structure to it. This fits the bill perfectly! :) I never visit your blog and come away empty! Just such FABULOUS things on here all the time, Nicole! :) Thank you so much for sharing such great 'nuggets of wisdom' today!! :) I really needed this tip! ;)

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  2. Providing stems to encourage meaningful conversation is genius! Thanks so much for sharing your bright idea! :)

  3. WONDERFUL my love. Just wonderful! I love the Partner Talk anchor chart!

  4. Such a great idea! Love the Agree/Disagree anchor chart! We need this in my classroom right now! Thank you so much for sharing!
    Peace, Love, and First Grade

  5. What a simple, yet effective idea! I need to make some anchor charts this week! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Corinna (✿◠‿◠)
    Surfin' Through Second

  6. I love how you give them the questions. I really need to try that with my kiddos! Great idea!

  7. I use "Turn and Talk" with my first graders after going to a conference and seeing it demonstrated. It is wonderful and gives all of my students a chance to give input. I found that it works great for the ones that are so quiet and usually do not like to talk in front of the class. Great post!!!

  8. Thank you for sharing how you get turn and talk to work better for you! My struggling readers have difficulty with this too. Your ideas will definitely help!
    Conversations in Literacy

  9. This is where I want to push my firsties the most right now. Thank you so much for sharing!!!
    Growing Firsties

  10. Thank you for sharing. I love the visuals!!!


  11. I am an avid believer in turn and talk, but never thought to have an anchor chart. Love it! Thanks for sharing your bright idea!
    Teaching With Love and Laughter

  12. Love this! I use sentence stems with my writing center. I love your anchor charts!! Thanks for this great post!

    Katie :)
    KTP: Keep Teaching and Planning!

  13. Is the turn and talk poster in your TPT store?



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