Reading Protocol

3. Chalk Talk

A strategy to promote discussion and interaction between students-but the "conversation" is silent.


1. Determine an open-ended discussion ahead of time.

2. Write the question or topic in the center of a large piece of paper.

3. Explain the process/answer any questions.

4. Clarify the important points (no talking, everyone must respond, manners).

5. Students write their responses on the paper around the question. They can also write responses to other peoples' answers (or to other responses). They should draw lines between blocks of text to show what they're responding to.

6. Allow 10-20 minutes for the chalk talk.

7. In pairs, students should read through the responses looking for patterns or themes. Allow about 5 minutes for this part of the activity.

8. Whole-group share: pairs report out on their findings until the entire class has shared their perspectives on the activity.

9. Reflection: What was the purpose of this activity? What was discovered?

Lesson Ideas: Use a Chalk Talk to:

-assess prior knowledge before starting an activity.

-informally assess what was learned at the close of an activity.

-discuss difficult or sensitive issues that students may be reluctant to discuss aloud.

-solve classroom management issues via silent conversation.

-maintain a record of what is discussed.

-conduct a "conversation" in a way it can be shared with someone else (a chalk talk about a school issue can be shared with the principal, etc).