Empowering Students

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In a recent article published on LinkedIn by one SIOP author (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) entitled, “Student Interaction Gone Awry”, Jana Echeverria explains how the art of engaging in conversation (Speaking and Listening Standards of CCSS) for many students is difficult.  This rings particularly true for English Language Learners.

Echeverria explains that the “Think Pair Share” or “Turn and Talk” strategies do NOT mean that students are interacting at the level they should be.

“Interactive activities should to be purposeful and used as a means for achieving specific learning goals.” according to this SIOP author.

I agree with Echeverria when she states that the balance between student talk and teacher talk is tricky.  One way I have tried to provide students with meaningful interaction and decrease my time facilitating discussions is by using Socratic Seminar sentence starters.  Students have been successful at using these sentence frames as I stand and observe.  I have had fun telling students extra points would be awarded if they use the sentence frame, “Does anyone have any final comments to add about ______ or shall we move on to a new subject?”

On a more serious note,these frames also provide students with the courage to disagree with their classmates.

If you are looking for some ideas on how to use these Socratic Seminar sentence starters, why not pick a book that provides students with a perspective of what it is like to be a refugeeHere are more books geared toward middle school. Your class can read the books, then create a list of questions stemming from the book’s content and begin a conversation!


About Sara

Expert Consultant in Bilingual Education for Multilingual Learners
I have dedicated my time to researching and learning how best to teach reading to Spanish-speaking students. My goal as an independent consultant is to empower teachers to know better and thus to do better.