The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 1 - Page 8

when they spoke. Therefore, all Accountable Talks were to take place on the rug. The children would sit in a circle so that when speaking, all can see them. Next, I wanted to give the children an environment where they could be physically comfortable. Several pillows were provided to give students a relaxed atmosphere. Finally, control was given to the children. It was made apparently clear to my class that I no longer was to be looked at as the person in charge during Accountable Talk. They were all in charge during this time so they had to follow the rules to be successful as active learners.

Key Factor 3: Model and model again in mini lessons.

As stated previously, I chose to implement Accountable Talk during my read aloud time. Having read-aloud sessions can strengthen children’s literacy development (Lane & Wright, 2007). Modeling and modeling again helped my second-grade students become acquainted with the steps involved to perform a read aloud and conduct an Accountable Talk session.

My modeling included selecting a book and using Post-It notes to mark the areas for discussion. I first demonstrated the proper way to hold a book when reading to a group. My students received books to practice holding at arm’s length and to the side of them, so they were able to read the text. I also showed them how to make the illustrations (or pictures) visible to the audience. Next, they were taught how to discuss the cover of a story by identifying the title, author and illustrator prior to reading. Students were also shown how to make predictions based on information on the cover. Finally, they were shown how to read a book with fluency and expression (Hollenbeck, 2006).

I distributed a class set of the book Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig (1970). The children followed along as I read the text to them. The children were then required to re-read, with fluency and expression, the text with a partner. I also displayed the Post -It notes used to help identify the significant areas where discussions can be implemented. It was at this point, I modeled the correct questioning methods, using higher order thinking skills (HOTS) (Cotton, 1997). I explained to the students that there are many types of questions that can be asked. I identified direct questions which have explicit answers from the text as well as indirect questions that require readers to draw inferences. They must be able to produce evidence that supports their answer. I also had my students work on open-ended questions or prompts; these give readers the flexibility to respond genuinely and reflectively with their thinking (Taberski, 2003).

We also practice these literacy skills with other books. Finally my students could mimic the vocabulary and literacy behaviors demonstrated by me and using the HOTS Starters (Appendix A).

Key Factor 4: Allow for practice in both small groups and whole class.

Once Accountable Talk became a daily practice of the classroom and the children were familiar with it, they began to leading their own discussions in small groups. Reading in front of an audience can be very frightening; therefore, my students began their discussions in small groups to develop their comfortable zone.

As I walked around the classroom during read-aloud time, I saw students starting their sessions with questions about the cover of the book. They did not just begin reading the book; they required their groups to give predictions about the story. I heard students asking their group to explain their predictions based on the pictures on the cover. It was amazing to view these children as not just students, but as teachers. They took responsibility for educating each other. As expected some children asked “yes and no” questions, however, one refocused by myself, those students began to ask questions that required their groups to really think.

We practiced Accountable Talk in small groups for several weeks. It finally came a time when one student could lead a whole class Accountable Talk session without any assistance from the teacher. This gave me the time and opportunity to conference with other children and listen to them individually read.

The children grew very excited when we had read-aloud time. They enjoyed having the


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