When students interact with content in a variety of ways, their learning becomes more meaningful. One strategy that I’ve been employing in my classroom is giving frequent (1-2 per class period) discussion opportunities. These “2 minute talks” give students a much-needed break during direct instruction, as well as a chance to reflect on the daily lesson while interacting with their peers.
Two-Minute Talk Strategy
This works well for engaging students in meaningful (yet brief) discussions about the content being learned. For this strategy, organize students in groups of 2. One student is “student A” the other is “student B” I find it is best if they are in close proximity, so I plan my seating chart with A-B partnerships in mind.
How it works:
- Pose a question that relates to the topic being learned. For example: What is liquid viscosity and how is it impacted by temperature? Be sure to reference your notes, use multiple examples and include lab data you have to support your claim. I recommend that the question is complex enough that it requires students to reference their notes or materials from class, but not so complex that struggling students are lost for words.
- Give students 30 seconds to think independently about the question, referencing their notes or text for supporting details.
- Next, Set a timer for 30 seconds and use a signal such as a bell to announce that the discussion has begun. Student A should share their answer with student B first, and student B is expected to be an attentive listener. Ring the bell at the end of 30 seconds to signal that the first round has ended.
- Set the timer for an additional 30 seconds. This time student B should answer the same question, but they MAY NOT repeat anything that student A said in the first part of the discussion. This requires them to describe liquid viscosity (in this case) using different words and different examples.
- Make a list of questions from which students can pick, when it is their turn to talk.
- Repeat the discussion for another minute, this time having students clarify their understanding by explaining which things they are most unsure or confused about in relation to the topic.
This strategy seems to be a nice twist on the “think-pair-share” that I have used in the past. I hope you find it useful in your classroom. With initial thinking time, and transition time between student A and B sharing, this strategy can give kids the voice time they need during direct instruction, in about two minutes.