What is Worth Talking About?

Ever read a tweet on Twitter that made you run into your classroom and change something?! That is what Kelly Gallagher’s tweet from November 20th did for me. Kelly Gallagher is the author of the books Readicide, Write Like This, Teaching Adolescent Writers, and many more. Here’s the tweet that made me think:

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I loved this! This tweet spoke to me! Asking students, “What is worth talking about?” is simple yet brilliant. What I know about myself as a teacher is that I need to remind myself to talk less and encourage students to talk MORE. Do you find that in your classroom too?

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 3.14.37 PM.pngSo on November 23, I went into the classroom and turned over a new leaf. I began each discussion with the question “What’s worth talking about?” I gave my students a few minutes to jot some ideas down on sticky notes. Then we shared and discussed!

I shouldn’t have been surprised that my students wanted to discuss everything that I had hoped we would talk about (and so much more!) We talked about: characters’ perspectives, relationships, changes, plot twists, questions, author’s decisions, literary devices (symbolism & themes!) etc. We began each day’s discussions this way. It also lead to some amazing writing!

Thank you, Kelly Gallagher, for your tweet! It led to some amazing discussions and writing in my classroom. It also reminded me that the best discussions come from the students. I need to talk less, listen more, and encourage my students to talk MORE about the topics they care about.

Kelly Gallagher’s website: http://www.kellygallagher.org/


Getting ready to do some good reading and writing over the holiday break, Dana Johansen spends her time teaching fifth grade in Connecticut, negotiating with her yellow lab about not chewing on the Christmas tree, and playing the app, Cookie Jam. She has taught elementary and middle school for fourteen years. Dana is a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University where she studies blended learning in reading and writing workshop. She is the co-author of the books Teaching Interpretation and Flip Your Writing Workshop.