Tone down the talking (teacher talk, that is)

Tone down the talking (teacher talk, that is!)

Project GLAD® has become synonymous with making content accessible and retainable for all students.  It’s known for creating positive, collaborative classroom cultures.  We tout its ability to increase relevancy and cultural proficiency in the learning process.  

Beyond all those benefits...

Project GLAD® is about learning language! 

All our students are language learners.  Whether we’re teaching in a dual language classroom or introducing content specific vocabulary in math, science, art, and literature.  

Guided Oral Practice is one of the main components in Project GLAD.  The idea is for students to learn language, they need to practice speaking that language.

The question is... 

How can we increase and guide student talk? 

How much space is there in the day or class period for students to talk?  Imagine if we took all the time we try to get students to be silent and repurposed it to promote talking? 

Sidenote:  For the Middle School teachers out there, permitting students to talk to each other is your only    option!  The adolescent brain is a social brain.  Their brains are wired to talk.  Use that to your advantage.  With a little guidance, guided oral practice may become one of your strongest tools for language and content learning. 

Another way to crease space for student talk is to...decrease teacher talk.

Sorry, we know that one hurts.  

Instead of berating yourself for talking too much, choose one of these ideas to decrease teacher talk and increase student talk. 


1. Decrease narrating  

There’s a time for intentional metacognitive modeling and a time to be succinct.  Narrating becomes background noise and our students learn to tune us out, like Charlie Brown’s teacher.  Wa wa wa wa wa.  And then we wonder, why aren’t they listening?!  Think about what you’re going to say before you say it.  Then say it.  Succinctly.  

Negative Example:  “When you hear the signal word, we’re going to head up to the front of the classroom to look at a new Big Big I created for you.  I can’t wait for you to see page 5 because I found some really interesting pictures on google images.  As you’re coming, make sure you push in your chairs.  Yesterday Elisa almost tripped over one of the chairs.  Oh and …..   wa wa wa wa wa wa

Positive Example:  “When you hear the signal word, meet me at the front of the room.”  “Analyze!  Analyze – think it though.” 




2. Decrease repeating students 

We want students to honor one another’s ideas.  That means listening to each other.  When we repeat student responses, comments, and questions, we’re teaching the class just to listen to us.  By encouraging students to speak confidently and directing attention to the speaker (not the repeater) we model honoring students’ voice as well.

Note:  One intentional time where we do repeat students’ responses is when scaffolding for language.  For example, if a student says, “There are lots of cactuses in the desert biome.”  We might say, “That’s right the desert biome is full of cacti.”  


3. Decrease giving instructions – again 

First we ensure students are listening to the instructions by using a strategy called the Zero Noise Signal.  Then we give instructions comprehensively, using visuals, gestures, and written prompts as needed.  Keep directions clear but concise.  Check for understanding.  Then avoid the temptation to enable learned helplessness by repeating instructions again for those couple students (you know who they are) who always ask.  At that point, students can ask their teammates, but you’re already done. 

Note:  If you have multiple students who are asking for clarification and their teams are confused as well, then it’s an indicator that we didn’t give instructions comprehensively.  Time for another Zero Noise Signal.  And a little more clarity and perhaps modeling of the instructions.  

Keep your emerging bi and multilingual students in mind as you give instructions.  Imagine if you went to school with laryngitis.  Would students know what to do even if you couldn’t speak?  

Just by decreasing teacher talk in those three areas we’ve freed up space to:


INCREASE student talk with

guided prompts


heads together

dialogue sentence stems

and partner or team experiences


Project GLAD strategies are replete with interactive, language rich learning strategies.  

To gain a full understanding of the model and strategies to increase student talk, join us for a virtual GLAD Foundations Training!  


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