Thursday, May 2, 2013

Chalk Talk by Kim

Chalk talk
This was my first foray with Chalk Talk.  I had been impressed by Maggie's use of it last year and was eager to give it a go.   The 5th/6th grade group was beginning a nonfiction unit on Influenza.

Connect:  Since we all get sick and the media was advising everyone to get their flu shots, I anticipated that they would have some experiences, thoughts, questions, etc.   Perhaps because it was: their first time with the routine/they were unfamiliar with the complete word/the group was too small to work off of each other--their notes were superficial and not always related.

Extend:  Once they began the reading of the book, discussing it, and conducting the research, their understandings deepened.  Their discussions were meaningful and authentic.  The began ask questions about vaccines in general and about the flu.  They realized that they did know more than they initially thought they did. Additionally that although they knew the word "flu", they hadn't realized that it was short for influenza.

Challenge:  In looking back, I think that next time I would have them revisit the chalk talk, to demonstrate their new understandings.   I also realized that I needed to pre-teach the vocabulary of the question.  Where in most elementary classrooms, these concepts would be commonplace, that is not the case with my students. Vocabulary, vocabulary, vocabulary... 

We are often unaware of how many abbreviations, acronyms, slang terms we use daily.  This experience taught me that we all need to be aware of and define many times, what we are actually talking about.  We teachers can explicitly explain connections between words i.e., flu is a shortened form of influenza; NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration, when we use America or the United States, we should be aware that Mexico is part of America AND that the official name is Estados Unidos de Mexico OR the United States of Mexico


  1. What a great way to develop vocabulary! Chalk talk is a wondeful way to generate conversation, and ELA students certaily need interesting ways to elicit language development.

  2. Great use of Chalk Talk. It's cool how teachers are finding ways to use it across content areas. Students have a lot to say and this is a quick, easy to create way to let them all have a chance to express themselves.