Engaging Students through Purposeful Conversation

During a recent grade-level collaborative planning, a third-grade teacher, Mrs. Duke, shared her success with a Making Meaning lesson.

Mrs. Duke explained that her students had read the story The Spooky Tail of Prewitt Peacock, and had a class discussion focusing on characters (comparing and contrasting as well as examining unique character traits) to support understanding. The students then engaged in a purposeful conversation based on their opinions about whether or not they agreed with Mrs. Duke’s opinion that Prewitt wanted to lead the peacocks. She also facilitated a discussion about the importance of including details to support opinions. For example, when students argued that Prewitt was unhappy about his tail, they realized that adding specific details helped others to understand their opinions.

After the discussion, the students were asked to journal whether or not they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “Prewitt is a proud leader.” It seemed that each time a student responded during the class discussion, they elicited a more detailed response and students were eager to write more.

At the conclusion of the lesson, students voluntarily shared about wanting to continue responding to text. As they began to transition to the next lesson, Mrs. Duke commented to her class about how proud she was of their writing, as well as the detailed responses in their diligent observations and conversations. Immediately the class burst into an authentic and spontaneous round of applause for each other.

As Mrs. Duke told that story to her colleagues, she stated, My heart swelled so big that it began to leak from my eyes! These are moments that we, teachers, live for!

The teachers were so excited to hear her story and see students citing evidence from the text that today another teacher on the team tried the lesson with her class too. Purposeful, collaborative conversations about teaching and learning equals success! Below are some of the student’s responses.

notepad page with student writing

notepad page with student writing