Turn and Talk

Thinking Buddies, Buddy Share

UDL 5.3

Turn and Talk is a structured discussion that invites students to turn and face a designated partner in order to discuss an idea or question to deepen understanding. During a lesson or activity, the teacher poses a question or topic and signals for students to discuss with their Turn and Talk partner. While students are engaged in Turn and Talk, teachers can listen-in to partnerships and intermittently choose to highlight common ideas or new thinking to the whole group. Teachers should strategically pair students based on the lesson or activity with respect to students' strengths, preferences, and learning styles. Turn and Talk differs from other paired discussions in that students share their thinking with the same partner over an extended period of time (e.g., across a unit, for an entire semester, etc.), allowing students to feel more comfortable discussing ideas.

Implementation Tips

Choose appropriate stopping points while planning a lesson that focus on driving learners towards deeper critical thinking (e.g., reflecting on a character’s motives, sharing a solving strategy for a math story problem). Include no more than two Turn and Talks during a lesson since conversations use a considerable amount of time.
Choosing Partnerships
Choose Turn and Talk partnerships before a lesson to help manage appropriate encounters and to encourage the most accountable talk among partners. Focus on each students’ academic abilities, style of learning, level of participation, and social skills when selecting partnerships to ensure that students can relate to their partner in multiple ways.
Organizing Discussions
Strategically seat pre-assigned partners to sit side-by-side or in front of and behind one another at the beginning of a lesson so that partners can quickly turn one way to engage in conversation without having to get up. Students are expected to remember who their designated partner is when asked to Turn and Talk.
Build a Turn and Talk routine that includes a signal to begin and end discussions. Examples might include ringing a bell, slowly count down 3-2-1, or singing a simple call and recall chant (e.g., Teacher: "Stop, look, and listen" Students: "Okay").
Timing Discussions
Provide partnerships with one to two minutes for each Turn and Talk conversation to set a framework and to ensure that students remain on-task and engaged. When first implementing this strategy, use an actual [[| timer]] to help students gauge time.
Modeling Behaviors
Model each step of the strategy with a student in front of the entire class (e.g. how to face one another, taking turns to speak, ending the discussion). Have students practice each step in isolation before participating in an actual Turn and Talk discussion.
Circulate through discussions to quickly assess if partnerships are able to engage in deep conversations and remain on-topic. Act as a Conversation Coach by "whispering-in" to help support students that demonstrate difficulty with the task.
Provide sentence starters to help students initiate discussion (e.g., I think that __ because­__. At first I thought __, but then I changed my thinking because __. I predict that __ will happen next, since __.)


Lesson/Activity Review
After a math inquiry lesson about weight estimation, the teacher asks partners to Turn and Talk, sharing two statements about their data. Students take turns reflecting on the learning process (e.g., Partner A: “I estimated the weight of the book was 100g, but the actual weight was 35g! The book weighed 65g less than my estimate. Partner B: “I estimated incorrectly too Just because the book was big, did not mean it weighed more. The heaviest object was the smallest one!”) The teacher signals partners to finish conversations and shares the big idea that students discovered.
Reading Comprehension
During a read aloud of Paula Danziger’s [[ | Amber Brown Is Not A Crayon]], a third grade teacher asks, “Please Turn and Talk and identify who is a secondary character in this story, and how do they most influence or affect the main characters?” Partnerships discuss and decide using prior knowledge. While roving and listening-in, when the teacher hears pairs confirming secondary characters, the pairs are then asked a follow-up question (e.g., “How does this secondary character provide encouragement or pose challenges to the main characters?”) Students use this prompt to delve deeper into using text evidence to support a claim.
Warm Up Activity
A science teacher uses a Turn and Talk as a warm-up activity to start a conversation and reflection about the previous night’s homework assignment. The students are encouraged to focus the Turn and Talk on what was learned from the assignment as well as what was a challenge. Students ask their partners for clarification and support one another when needed. The teacher uses the warm-up to assess if a concept needs to be readdressed for a majority of the students.
To introduce shapes, a kindergarten teacher asks students name all the shapes they know with their Turn and Talk partner. While partners share, the teacher listens and jots the names of different shapes heard during the discussion on a chart. After about a minute, the teacher signals the students to turn back for a whole class discussion and uses the examples heard during the discussion as a springboard for the lesson, asking questions to begin eliciting higher-level thinking of shapes (e.g., “What makes shapes different?", "What words can we describe them?")

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