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10 No Nonsense Ways Teachers Get Students To Talk About Text

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Do you wish your students would talk more about the texts they are reading?

Do you wish your students would share more than literal and surface understandings about the texts they are reading?

Do you want your readers to become more motivated, engaged & analytical?

We all want our students to have real honest and authentic conversations about text, right?

Check out the 10 no nonsense ways teachers get students to talk about the texts they are reading


Create authentic experiences

Students value authentic learning experiences where they can spread and show their creative wings.

Authentic literacy experiences include giving students choice in what they read, having students react honestly to text and respond to the texts they choose to read.

When students have the choice to be creative and stretch their thinking beyond the text, they take their interpretations to places the teacher usually doesn't expect.


Help students discover their Reading Identity

Young readers don't step into our classrooms just knowing what they like to read. Or even liking to read!

We must provide experiences to help readers discover the kinds of readers they are, so we can help them grow.

Readers need time to dig into their own reading identity to see the kind of readers they are and the kinds of readers they want to become.


Lose the Worksheets

Worksheets about reading are not going to help develop the reading thinking of a young reader.

Worksheets encourage "right answers" not talk and thinking and interpretation.

If students are expected to think and write analytically about text, worksheets are not going to get them there.

Readers need help in building the attitudes and behaviors of a proficient reader. They don't come to us that way.

Readers must be equipped with the strategies, skills and tools necessary to think analytically about text.


Give Students Choice

Help students understand how to make good book choices based on their own reading identity.

Readers want to read about their own interests.

We sometimes have to help them stretch their interests, but they should have choice in their independent reading.


Explore different kinds of reading thinking

Young readers don't enter classrooms just knowing how to think about text.

Students need instruction and practice with inferential and analytical thinking.

Students need to know how to monitor their own comprehension.

We must provide them with lessons in comprehension strategies that let's them practice.

Readers need experiences to flex and build their reading muscles.


Visit and revisit the Classroom Library

Every classroom--at every grade level--should have a classroom library.

Students need immediate access to a variety of texts within a variety of interest categories, genres, complexities and levels.

Students could help organize the classroom library into baskets that match the genres, authors, interests and categories that are relevant to them.


Read Aloud with Accountable Talk

EVERY classroom should have time set aside for a read aloud.

Read aloud is a vital part of an instructional day.

During read aloud the teacher gets to model for his/her students what proficient readers do as they experience text.


Provide Talking & Thinking Stems

If we want students to talk about text, they should have thinking stems to frame their book conversations.

We all need a little nudge and guidance sometimes.

An anchor chart of Talking Stems would be the perfect solution!


MODEL Book Talk

Students listen to everything we say...sometimes they even hear the things we don't want them to hear. Even if we don't think they are listening, they are!

So, we must model proficient reader book talk within Shared Reading, Minilessons, Small Group Instruction, Individual Conferences.

Have you ever heard the phrase, "If you build it, they will come."?

If you MODEL it, they will follow!


Help students understand how to interpret text

Along with thinking, students must understand that we all can interpret the message of a text differently---and spoiler alert---no one is wrong! No multiple choices here!

Students generally think that there is one right answer and if one student provides an answer, then their personal answer must be wrong.

We must help our readers move past that old way of thinking.

Readers must understand that a text has several interpretations as long as the evidence is provided to support and support your thinking.


Looking for a minilesson to help guide your readers in how to have book conversations?

Looking for a rubric and notetaking guide to record observations when students are talking about books?

Until next time...



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