Sunday, March 3, 2013

SOLC 3/31: Brave the Silence

It's time to take action according to the month's One Little Word project with Ali Edwards. My action aligns with my intention this month which is to Brave the Silence. My action will be to talk less and listen more. In lesson study I learned that if I stayed quiet and waited long enough someone would say what I was thinking. We can do that in many different ways in our work.  I'm not talking about the kind of silence that the quote, "Silence is the voice of complicity." is talking about.

My goal is to deliberately practice listening to allow my students and my colleagues the oppportunity to keep learning going. Sarah Dessen writes in her young adult novel Just Listen, "This is the problem with dealing with someone who is actually a good listener. They don't jump in on your sentences, saving you from actually finishing them, or talk over you, allowing what you do manage to get out to be lost or altered in transit. Instead, they wait, so you have to keep going.  My action is to practice being the listener this month.

In our classroom I am reminded again and again of Kylene Beer's words about the one who talks the most in the classroom does the most learning.  I have been working on increasing the amount of student talk in my instruction for the past two years. This work became even more important as I work with teachers and have over 40 students in my classes.  It becomes readily apparent which students feel comfortable sharing out whole class. I also like using different strategies because it makes students talk to different people.  We have our comfort zones, but then we talk to new people we are introduced to new perspectives.  In my resolve to brave the silence, I hope to learn more by letting other discovery what they didn't know, they knew.

One books that I like to help teachers design lessons with more student-talk embedded is Daniel's and Steineke's Text and Lessons for Content Area Reading

Here is a list of the top ten strategies I have been using to get students to talk more so I can listen:

1. I Have, You Have
2. Carousel Brainstorming
3. Tabletop Twitter
4. Fold the Line
5. Mile a Minute
6. Quotation Mingle
7. Square, Circle, Triangle
8. Socratic Seminar
9. Find Your Match or Move to the Beat
10. Brown Bag Assessment


  1. I love that book and the lessons we've pulled from it to use in lesson study (and in my classroom). Our onversation last week reminded me of the importance of silence and of listening (instead of speaking or questioning) as a way to support and encouragement. I love that you talk about letting others discover--that is such a powerful form of learning (and leading).

  2. I agree that the more you talk the more you internalize and learning. I try to implement student conversations in my class constantly. I will have to look in to the resources you mention and the lessons to try in my room. I will love to hear the changes you see once you have braved the silence.

  3. This is inspiring. Listening is one of my things to "Pace" as I go through 2013 with my OLW as well. Listening is an art I have not practiced enough. Good luck to you and all you may learn by listening.

  4. What an inspiring post!

    Thanks for all of those external links to check out too. I haven't heard of many of these strategies so I'm excited to learn more.


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