How do you get students to talk in class?

How do you get students to talk in class?

Most elementary students like to talk, so you don’t have a problem when you ask a question since you always have a lot of hands in the air. However, most elementary classroom activities are teacher-directed, which means teachers do the most talking. Although this traditional way of teaching has been a staple in classrooms for decades, today’s teachers are trying to move away from these methods and do more student-directed activities. Here are some suggestions and strategies to get your students talking more and you talking less.

Activities to get students talking

1. Give students time to reflect

When you ask a question, don’t expect an immediate answer. Give your students time to collect their ideas and think about their answers. Students can even write their thoughts on a graphic organizer or use a cooperative learning method to discuss their thoughts and hear the opinions of their peers. Sometimes all you have to do to get students talking more is just to let the silence hang for a few extra minutes so they can think.

2. Use active learning strategies

Active learning strategies like the one mentioned above are a great way to get students talking more in class. Cooperative learning groups offer students the opportunity to work with their peers and discuss what they are learning, rather than having to take notes and listen to the teacher’s lecture. Try using the “Jigsaw” method where each student is responsible for learning part of the task, but must discuss what they have learned within their group. Other techniques are the round robin, the numbered heads or the team solo.

3. Use tactical body language

Think about how students see you when you are in front of them. When they talk, do you have your arms crossed or do you look away and get distracted? Your body language will determine how comfortable the student is and how long they will talk. Make sure you are looking at them when they are talking and that your arms are not crossed. Nod when you agree and don’t interrupt them.

4. Think about your questions

Take the time to formulate the questions you ask the students. If you always ask rhetorical questions, which end in yes or no, how can you expect your students to talk more? Try asking students to debate an issue. Formulate a question so that the students have to choose a side. Divide students into two teams and have them debate and discuss their views.

Instead of telling a student to look at their answer because it might be incorrect, try asking them how they got that answer. This will not only give them a chance to correct themselves and figure out what they did wrong, but it will also give them a chance to talk with you.

5. Create a Student-Led Forum

Share your authority by asking students to ask questions. Ask students what they want to learn about the subject you are teaching, then have them submit a few questions for class discussion. When you have a student-led forum, students will feel more free to speak and discuss because the questions have been asked by themselves, as well as their peers.

Fear of speaking in class

The ability to speak on a variety of topics for an extended period of time while remaining calm and confident is believed to be an essential skill in life. Public speaking is one of the most intimidating things for many students, but this art is often considered a rite of passage.

But glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is real. It takes a lot of confidence to face dozens of people or more, especially for young people who are still developing their self-awareness and personality. The key is not to avoid public speaking just because it’s scary. Facing the fear is certainly applicable here, with experts recommending gradual, gradual acclimatization through exposure over time. For students, this works very well due to the docile nature of young minds. So here’s how to get students involved in the classroom:

1. Promote a positive classroom culture

Encourage an overly shy student to participate in class, and to find and select topics that motivate them, so public speaking will be easier with their fluency and genuine curiosity. Don’t dismiss any idea outright and don’t allow other students to laugh at it. If a topic is not appropriate, clearly explain why. Also, encourage conversation among students and explore the possibility of involving two children together. This is a great way to build trust, as two presenters will give each other an immediate boost.

2. Encourage group presentations

We mentioned joint presentations above, but we’d like to discuss them in more detail here. The “all eyes on me” effect instinctively puts us on the defensive and makes us extremely self-aware – when speaking in public, as well as in co-presentations. It is simply biology and evolution that makes us feel challenged and exposed. Bringing the students into a common presentation immediately reduces this fear considerably. Even group presentations are easier. Although they are not a substitute for solo presentations, which must be taught, joint presentations can be used very effectively as part of the acclimatization process.

In addition, group or shared presentations allow for the development of collaborative skills. The students prepare the presentation together and produce to divide the tasks, each taking on a part of the agenda. The importance of time management skills becomes even more pronounced when there are multiple presenters, but students experience first-hand the value of social support and helping each other. Perhaps new friendships will develop as a result of this project. We encourage group presentations and use them as a very useful stepping stone on the path to mastering public speaking as a teacher.

3. Let students take advantage of new technologies

Your students are digital natives and may find working with familiar devices and platforms a comforting antidote to nervousness. Asking them to face an audience with nothing but sheets of paper just makes things worse. That being said, remember that public speaking isn’t just about knowing the topic and pronouncing the sentences correctly. The most important thing is to arouse the interest of the public. To help them, let them use tools, such as smart projectors and interactive flat screens, to present their presentations in a more successful way for them and their audience on the spot.


Source: Cox, Janelle. “How to Get Students to Talk in Class. » ThoughtCo , Aug. 26, 2020.

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