Slice of Life Tuesday: Silent Conversations, Redux

There I was, waiting for my students. We had thirty minutes for our Friday lesson, down to twenty-five after a long-running assembly. Down to twenty so kids could prepare for a half-day early dismissal.

Not much time.

Still, I wanted the lesson to be a reflection on their allegorical picture book reading. I thought through ways we might review the work different groups had done: class discussion? Rotate around with conversation at each poster? With fifteen kids already hyped up from an assembly and antsy for an early bell, I wasn’t so sure those talks would go smoothly. (Why hello, Understatement. How have you been?)

Cue the silent conversation. It’s one of my very, very favorite strategies. Basically, there are posters / prompts all around the room. Kids each get a pen and they circulate, writing responses, questions and comments. We visit and revisit posters, creating and responding to others’ thoughts as we see fit. Only rule? No talking at all. Every shared word comes out through our writing utensils. (Psst…got some quieter kids? This one is GREAT for folks who have a tough time getting words in edgewise. It also forces more verbal kiddos to consider and reflect before responding…)

I hadn’t done silent conversations, really, since before COVID. And boy oh boy did I miss them! These kids had never done them with me, and their energy and enthusiasm was through the roof! By the end of our time together, they were disappointed they couldn’t spend longer, and eager for the next time we could engage together.

But don’t take my word for it. I’ll let their thoughtful, insightful work speak for themselves:

Kids adding their two cents

From The Wretched Stone by Chris Van Allsburg. Is *any* amount of tech ok? Some differing views…

From Mem Fox’s Feathers and Fools. Reflecting on the connection between fear of differences and hatred.

From Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax*. How perceptive to see things from the Onceler’s perspective. That seed…that last little vestige of hope…

Sometimes, you have kids who are aware of history and how it plays into so very much. Just like these kiddos who read Dr. Seuss’s Yertle the Turtle.

A kid and I got into a back-and-forth conversation as we “talked” about Seuss’s The Sneetches. What a cool opportunity!

*Yes, I know that Dr. Seuss can be…somewhat problematic. Don’t worry. We’ll be having a conversation about what we do when an author or artist we love comes with…a little extra to think about…

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers, for sponsoring the weekly Slice of Life Challenge!

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

9 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Silent Conversations, Redux

  1. My favorite line: “With fifteen kids already hyped up from an assembly and antsy for an early bell, I wasn’t so sure those talks would go smoothly.” 😂 This says so much. I can hear my inner teacher GPS: recalculating… recalculating…

  2. Your post is a reminder of the power of reflective thinking and responding. I have lesson planned for later this week, that I have not done since before Covid, that I now know I MUST do…thank you

  3. Brilliant solution! I love the silent conversation protocol. The introvert in me prefers it! I can thank NWP for introducing me to this…and you for reminding me about it.

    1. Absolutely! And as a teacher of students identified as gifted/talented, I find that there’s a gap between the kids who are highly vocal and verbal, and the kids who are more deliberate thinkers. This activity definitely levels the playing field.

    1. Thanks! And…your kids will love you for it. Sometimes, depending on the group, they need a bit of prep as to what makes for kind or gentle responses (I’ve definitely had those crowds!), but I’ve found it to be a highly engaging activity. Good luck, and let me know if you wind up giving it a go!

  4. “Being proud of yourself makes it harder for someone to oppress you” is my take-away from your wise and thoughtful students! That, and this super idea of silent conversations, which is new to me. You did a service here, today, slicing late yesterday! 🙂

    1. RIGHT? It was such an insightful idea for this student to come to. As for the silent conversation, it is definitely one of my favorite tools to use.

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