It’s a colourful life…

…that of a teacher. And that of a French teacher trying to get her students to speak more in class!

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Thanks to Celeste Kirsh (@teach_tomorrow), I attempted to up the ante beyond “Talking Stick 2.0” ( No longer was it just about using the plain popsicle sticks to determine the number of one’s contributions to the discussion; now we were going to do it in colour! And this time to track the types of contributions made. Based on  @teach_tomorrow‘s guidelines for her students, I created the following:

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This way, students could determine if they were contributing a:

  • new thought
  • add-on
  • probing / challenging question
  • clarifying question or
  • connection.

Each student received one of each colour and, during our current events discussions, could only use them each once per presentation. I was hoping that this would limit the students who enjoyed contributing new thoughts, but didn’t push the conversation further. It worked out for the most part, although some of the new thoughts were lengthy ones, which still limited equal participation from all students.

Overall, the students responded positively to this, so I geared them up for more:

“So…how do you think using colour-coded popsicle sticks

during a Harkness Table would work out?”

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We practiced a Harkness Table with the same guidelines as above. When it came time for the assessment of learning, though, I tweaked the use of sticks to better reflect the expectations from the rubric so that students could track their performance in this particular assessment.

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At the end of the Harkness Table, the students thought that the popsicle sticks were more of a “nice to have” than a “need to have”, but they didn’t mind continuing to use them with the current events discussions.

I personally enjoyed this version of the talking stick. Kagan’s (@KaganOnline) Talking Chip strategy launched me in this direction, and  @teach_tomorrow‘s ideas added on immensely. The visual feedback I got was immediately telling. I am definitely keeping this one in my repertoire!

Merci mille fois, Celeste!

3 thoughts on “It’s a colourful life…

  1. Love it! I love the evolution of an idea and it’s turned out tremendously. It’s amazing that your FSF4U students can do as much as they can. Do you send them to get the DELF with the Alliance Française? Would they get their B1s easily?

    I’m definitely planning a trip to see you next year! Can I spend a half day with you?

    You are rocking it!

    1. Merci, Derek. Did I mention that the students love the ‘actualite’ (current events) presentations, which were an idea you gave me? We are learning more about the DELF here and one of my colleauges, @anilabvg, completed her ‘formation’ for the DELF. I’m still getting used to the levels and what they mean. It’s an interesting journey for our department and our school that we’re embarking on with the new curriculum and the possibility of the DELF.

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