These days, curriculum often recommends using partner chats, turn-and-talk, and other one-on-one conversation strategies to help students reflect on and deepen their learning. Although it may seem like a simple thing, chatting with a partner involves a complex set of skills that many children do not come to school with: listening and speaking in turn, staying on topic, and not monopolizing the conversation, to name just a few.
Conversation skills are important for academic and social learning at all ages. The school day is full of conversations—we talk with each other in large group gatherings, at work and choice times, and of course during snack, recess, and lunch. Children who are not skilled in this arena may struggle, academically and socially. That’s why it’s important to teach conversation skills explicitly. I’ve found that taking time to teach first grade students how to chat with a partner has had striking benefits—for individual students, and for our classroom community.
For this activity, we used circle time to learn about the letter W with a partner! Using lightning bolts made out of foam, we created our letters. Before starting, your little ones were informed that the letter W is made up of a series of different shaped lines. These lines attach to form W! With their partners, they attached these “lightning bolts” together to form a W!