Talk Towers

This idea will help children focus on the type of discussion they have had. It will give them a physical way of seeing the quality of their discussion.

What do you do?

Each group will have a set of Lego bricks to represent each child’s contribution to the discussion. When a child has spoken they will add a brick to the group’s tower. Each child will add a brick to the tower after they have spoken provided the contribution built on what was said previously. If the contribution did not build on what was previously said then a new tower is started.

This is quite a powerful exercise as it will demonstrate how successful a group has been and the quality of the discussion. If you have a number of very small towers then you will clearly see that the group were not particularly good at building on others’ ideas. They would then perhaps need to focus on what others’ have said in order to develop one line of inquiry rather than too many.

What happens when you are asleep?

Why is sleep so important and what happens when you sleep?

There are several stages to tour sleep and each one has a different job. You have to reach the later stages for your body to really reap the benefits. In the deep sleep stage your body goes through the rebuilding process and the rem sleep stage is where you experience dreams and your brain makes sense of things that have happened to you. It is the stage that plays a huge role in memory and information processing.

Check out the information below…

Fish Bowl

Not the sort with fish in it!

The idea of this is to set up two circles – an inner circle and an outer circle. The inner circle have a discussion while the outer circle listen to the discussion. The outer circle give feedback about the discussion after having observed it.

The focus for the outer circle is observation and listening skills. You can ask them to focus on specific things such as summarize what they have heard or perhaps ask them to have a focus linked to the Oracy Framework.

The effect of screens on sleep

Screens can have quite a negative impact on our sleep.

Lots of us look at a screen within a short space of time before going to bed. I’m guilty of this too!

You can make changes to your screens to aid sleep for example turning on a blue light filter. The blue light keeps your brain alert so turning this off is a simple way to help your brain before bed on any device including a kindle.

Filming discussions

A great way to give the children awareness of their discussions is to film them. It can be very enlightening to review a discussion by watching it back. I did this with a class to demonstrate to them that when they all talk at once nothing is achieved. They were quite taken aback at how this looked and how ineffective this was. From watching this film we were able to discuss what we should be doing and put things in place to learn from this and move forward. We used tokens for the children who dominated the talk and when we filmed the children a second time the discussion flowed much better enabling more children to have a turn talking.

The importance of sleep…

I know how I feel when I haven’t slept well. I can’t concentrate and my head feels foggy. I feel short tempered.

Our children feel the same when they do not have a good nights sleep.

Did you know that not getting the right amount of sleep can increase your risk of obesity, heart disease and stroke. It can also cause you to develop type 2 diabetes and affect your mental health.

In a study of teenagers who were purposefully denied sleep many of them developed symptoms of ADHD.

The effects caused by not getting enough sleep are quite incredible.

How do you make sure you and your child get enough sleep?

Talk detectives

So lets think a little more about talking about talk and how we can teach the children the skills for doing this. Once children have become aware of a skill that you have taught you can then further develop this skill by encouraging the children to see the skill in conversations and discussions for themselves. This will deepen their understanding of the skill.

One such way to do this is to use talk detectives. The idea of this is to send a couple of children around the class with a clipboard and a few areas from the Oracy Framework to focus on. They will be encouraged to sneak around the class and listen in to discussions noting down when they see good examples of the things on their clipboard.

Take a look at the example of a talk detectives sheet below.

This can be used as a powerful tool to understand what makes effective discussion.