Text Talk Time (3-5)

Community Inquiry
Grade Level

Text Talk Time is a whole class discussion that facilitates rich dialogue, active listening and use of textual evidence.


After reading


Text Talk Time prepares students for structured group discussion of a complex central text. The strategy allows students to practice answering questions verbally about a text that they may later be asked to write about. The strategy encourages them to provide evidence for their answers.


Talk Text Time can be used a number of ways and incorporated into other strategies. This approach always includes these steps:
  1. Choose the central text.
  2. Read the text in class during Close and Critical Reading or assign it as independent reading.
  3. Instruct students to prepare two or three text-dependent questions prior to beginning Text Talk Time. Answers to text-dependent questions must require textual evidence. Text-dependent questions might: examine the text's central ideas; analyze how and why individuals, events and ideas developed throughout the text; determine the meaning of important words and phrases in the text; and consider how those word choices affect meaning or tone. Regardless of their questions, remind students that they should examine the text in order to come to a better understanding of what it says or infers.
  4. Use the Text Talk Time handout to help students generate questions. Guide students the first few times they generate their questions. As you gradually release more responsibility to students, consider the extent to which parameters for question topics would help.
  5. Arrange the classroom for large group discussion.
  6. Go over the expectations for Text Talk Time. Establish guidelines for when students can talk and how to signal if they have something to say. Students might raise two fingers to indicate, “I have something to add,” or a thumbs-up to mean, “I have something new to say.”
  7. Build “think time” into Talk Text Time to allow students to generate follow-up questions and responses to their classmates' questions and ideas. Facilitate to ensure equal participation and safe discussion behavior and to make sure text references are accurate (page, line, paragraph). Remind students to cite specific textual evidence and quote accurately from the text.
  8. To bring the discussion to a close, ask summarizing questions that require students to consider the text as a whole. Pose questions such as, “What does the author seem to think about [insert central text idea here]? How do you know?” "How might you summarize the text's central idea(s)?" To further scaffold this pre-writing opportunity, have students turn and talk with an elbow partner before responding to the whole group.

English language learners

Text Talk Time benefits English language learners by requiring that they use academic language to articulate their thoughts. To reduce possible anxiety, consider forming smaller circles of four to six students.

Another way to reduce anxiety for English language learners is to preview (or ask the ELL teacher to preview) the text and Text Talk Time expectations with them. Rather than asking students to write listening notes on the self-evaluation, allow English language learners to highlight the text or draw pictures.

Connection to anti-bias education

Text Talk Time supports democratic and collaborative discussion. Students work together to comprehend and make meaning of a text. The structure makes it less likely that particular students will dominate or feel overpowered, reinforcing the values of respect, equity and cooperation.
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