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Conversation Starters: Why They Matter

Communication is the glue that holds relationships together.  The Common Core State Standards have emphasized group discussion as an important 21st century skill to prepare students for the group-think ethos of the modern day work world.  There are many tried & true techniques for implementing discussion in the classroom: Think-Pair-Share, Fishbowls, Turn & Talk.  Sage teachers know these discussions are important in all forms, whether they are quick exchanges or lengthy debates.

But, what about discussing ourselves?  Missing from the classroom is instruction on the skills students need to reflect on themselves and put those thoughts into words.  Sure, you say, they are living in a me-first! world: social media has put every child on a pedestal and all they do is talk about themselves!  Hear me out.

Yes, social media is teaching a generation of children the art of marketing themselves.  If you pay attention, they are seldom using words at all anymore.  Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook have enabled children to edit a series of catalogs of their life.  They are choosing the images they want to speak for them.

Well, I want to get kids to speak for themselves again, to think for themselves again and to think about themselves.  Let’s teach children to be metacognitive about what makes them tick.

Every Monday I will post a conversation starter with an objective and guidelines for teasing out your student’s sense of self.  This will be a new experience for most students and, as with all new skills, will take regular practice to improve.  This is why we will do this weekly.

Their ability to reflect on themselves, their personal beliefs and, importantly, the things which make them happy will give them the tools they need for making decisions they feel good about.

We owe it to our students to teach them to talk for themselves.  Check back on Monday for the first conversation starter!






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