- Choose a central text.
- Read the text in class during Close and Critical Reading or assign it as independent reading.
- Instruct students to bring their copies of the text to Text Talk Time and to come prepared with thinking notes and two or three text-dependent questions. These materials are their “entry tickets” into the discussion. Students’ questions should: examine the text’s central idea and how it develops over the course of the text; analyze the structure an author employs—including how particular sentences and paragraphs contribute to the overall message; explore an author’s point of view or purpose and how the author conveys that through rhetoric; and determine the meaning of important words and phrases in the text, considering also how those word choices affect meaning or tone. Regardless of the topic, remind students that answering their questions should require textual evidence. You may need to guide students in this step until they feel comfortable composing text-dependent questions.
- Arrange your classroom for whole-class discussion.
- 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. Middle school students might raise two fingers to indicate, “I have something to add” or a thumbs-up to mean, “I have something new to say.”
- Build “think time” into Text Talk Time to allow students to generate follow-up questions and meaningful responses to their classmates’ questions and ideas. Facilitate and monitor for equal participation.
- Remind students to cite specific textual evidence and quote accurately from the text.
- Every student should have the central text in front of them during Text Talk Time so they can point to specific spots in the text and see spots their classmates reference.
- As students grow more comfortable with Text Talk Time and interacting with their classmates and the text, push them to consider and evaluate the soundness of their classmates’ arguments. What are their claims? What evidence do they identify to support their point? Is this evidence relevant? Sufficient? Convincing?
- Close by having students summarize the discussion. Consider facilitating a “think-pair-share” activity or assigning an exit ticket that asks students what they learned about the text and what could be improved in the next discussion.
English language learners
Text Talk Time benefits English language learners by requiring that they use academic language to articulate their thoughts. To reduce English language learners’ anxiety when speaking to the whole group, consider forming smaller circles of four to six students.
Connection to anti-bias education
Text Talk Time supports democratic and collaborative discussion. Students work together to comprehend a text. The structure makes it less likely that particular students will dominate or feel overpowered, reinforcing the values of respect, equity and cooperation.