I just wrote a post about Turn and Talks here. I hope it was useful. In re-reading it, I was struck by another commonality among the three classrooms I described in the post and wanted to put a bow on it. Not only are the amazing classrooms of Rue Ratray, Maggie Johnson and Eric Snider highly efficient and full of positive energy, they are all characterized by the fact that the are reading rigorous, demanding, fascinating texts. This definitely has something to do with why students are so eager to engage in their classrooms but it is an important observation in its own right about great classrooms. They never skimp on the rigor. In fact it’s one of the things that skeptics often misunderstand about classrooms in schools like these–that the structure and efficiency are designed to work hand in hand with highest quality instructional content.
So, (here’s the bow) at least as important as their Turn and Talk technique–no, check that, probably more important than their Turn and Talk technique–is Rue and Maggie and Eric’s choice of reading material. They are reading: The Giver, The Martian Chronicles, and To Kill a Mockingbird in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade respectively.
Structure loves rigor and rigor loves structure.