The Power of Talk

How talk influences the learning and growth of our students

Please join us in this discussion and celebration of learning

It is with great enthusiasm that the 2013-2014 Maple Wood Elementary School interns invite you to join them in the presentation of their colloquium: How is the Power of Talk used in classrooms?


Together, we will discuss our findings regarding the power that talk has on students' learning and growth in the classroom.


It is our goal for you to leave with a greater understanding of the importance of talk in the classroom, as well as with new ideas for how talk can be successfully structured and supported in any learning environment.


The brief project descriptions below along with the attached personal and group learning journeys will arm you with the foundational knowledge you need in order to come prepared with questions and comments in regards to these subjects.


We look forward to having you join us in this discussion and celebration of learning!

Emily Morrison

I’ve discovered through my interest in how The Power of Talk motivates students to become better writers, that partnerships can be implemented in multiple ways within Writers’ Workshop to enhance student achievement. I've found that the two ways in which partnerships are most useful in my classroom are partnerships for working on a single piece of writing collaboratively, and partnerships in which students confer about their individual pieces of writing. When students are allowed to work with partners, the flow of traffic that seems to bottleneck near the teacher is reduced and students are able to use their writing time more effectively. Partnership writing has proven that The Power of Talk is a strong motivator for students and has contributed to the successful development of a classroom full of students who are genuinely excited about writing. What I've discovered is that The Power of Talk does not only belong to teachers but it is also a powerful tool for learning between students.

Taylor Thompson

In a 2006 study done by the University of Pittsburgh, it was found that there are three especially effective forms of talk that take place in the classroom between the teachers and students in order to enhance learning in the area of literacy: accountability to knowledge, accountability to linking, and accountability to thinking. While conducting video research of student conversations during Readers’ Workshop for my colloquium I found all of these lines of questioning and discussion took place on a regular basis. It was interesting to see my students’ ability to move each other to deeper levels of thinking during their book talks. Through this process I was able to find ways to support my students in their conversational moves as well as gather feedback directly from them in regards to what it is like have the power to trigger a revelation for one of their peers, or for a peer to do the same for them. I look forward to an ongoing exploration of this topic in my coming years as a classroom teacher as I have found that fostering powerful talk between my students to be enormously important.

Shelley Kosek

The power of casual conversation plays a major role in forming relationships and becomes an important life skill as children grow into adults. Conversation requires skills such as taking turns, listening and responding, and paying attention, all of which children should develop during their years at school. Through my research, I have found that daily classroom instruction can be guided by the conversations that teachers have with students, that instruction done through conversation and discussion can be just as if not more meaningful than lecture-based instruction, and that we can actually use casual conversation as a tool to both support and assess student learning. Chit-chat, as it is known in many circles, is something that we should come to embrace for its power to provide authentic teachable moments, as we are able to broaden our students’ horizons just by engaging with them in simple dialogue. Furthermore, providing students with the opportunity to enrich each other’s knowledge is another valuable piece of conversation, and this happens naturally when children socialize and talk to each other. The next time you are about to cut into a conversation between students, I invite you to take a moment, first, and listen to what they are discussing, as you might just find the key to a creative way to teach them.

Kathleen Janakis

Conferring with readers is a powerful tool for teachers during Readers’ Workshop. The practice of sitting one-on-one with a student can help the teacher understand so much more about the student as a reader and what the student’s strengths and weaknesses are. Besides being a great tool for informal assessment, conferring also builds students’ confidence in reading as well as their interest. The bond of sharing a book encourages students to continue reading and find out more that you can discuss together. However, logically, with a class of twenty or more students, in can be very hard to keep track of what you discussed with each individual reader. Evernote is an amazing tool to document all of your meetings with students. This presentation will highlight how to use Evernote for conferring as well as what makes conferring a powerful tool for a teacher to use.

Maple Wood Intern Colloquium Presentation

Thursday, April 17th, 3:30pm

Maplewood Elementary School, Somersworth, NH, United States

Somersworth, NH

Please allow yourself enough time to mingle and find your seats prior to the scheduled start time, as we will begin presenting promptly at 3:30. Thank you!


Schedule of Events:

3:30-3:50: Whole Group Pre-brief

3:55-4:25: Break-out Session 1

4:30-5:00: Break-out Session 2

5:05-5:25: Whole Group Debrief

5:30-6:30: Potluck Dinner


Please kindly RSVP to this event to Taylor's email: tai45@unh.edu with the subject reading "Colloquium RSVP". We hope to see you there!

Understanding floats on a sea of talk ~ James Britton