Talking Sticks with Guided Reading Groups - Simply Skilled Teaching

Talking Sticks with Guided Reading Groups



Hi Friends…  Guided Reading is one of my favorite times of the day.  I am always looking and searching for new ideas and activities that can add a little more variety into my group work.  As I was creating my lesson plans last week, I knew that I needed to attack Non-fiction Text Features and responding to Non-fiction texts during the week. I always introduce our weekly comprehension skill and strategy using a mentor-text of some sort as a read-aloud on the carpet, which then allows me to dig deeper into the skill during our small group time.  This past week, we were learning about ways we communicated in the past and how our ways of communicating have changed and are still changing now.
I have four guided reading groups in my room.  One group is considered an advanced group, two groups are considered on-level, and one group is my strategic intervention group.  When I am planning my lessons, I always try to ensure that I can use the same type of activity with each group, but it must allow for differentiation, which I came upon when I found these…..


I am sure they look familar to you because who does NOT KNOW who Laura Candler is??!!  What a talented educator.  I have been a faithful Laura Candler follower for years.  She shares such unbelievable information with her followers and creates teacher resources that are top-notch!
These Talking Sticks for Book Discussons are PERFECT for guided reading groups when you are teaching ANY skill for fiction or non-fiction.  They are completely aligned to the common core state standards and are well-thought out and ADORABLE…can you say purple polka-dots 🙂  Hee-Hee….I love to have things look cute AND pack a punch for what I am teaching…two worlds melded together make for a happy {type A} teacher 🙂  sorry….I digress… 🙂
The basic premise of these Talking Sticks is to get every child actively involved with the book discussion.  Each child is supposed to get three popsicle sticks.  These sticks are basically their “chances” to share and actively engage with the group while the other group members are active listeners.  The leader/teacher in the group will choose a discussion prompt and a child will hold up one of his/her sticks to show they are willing to answer the question.  If another child would like to add to the discussion, they hold up one of their sticks so that the leader/teacher knows that they would like the chance to speak.  When the leader/teacher believes that the group members don’t have anything further to share, they pick another prompt and begin the process all over again using the remaining sticks in front of them.  After each child shares, they place their stick in the cup.  When their sticks run out, they are to only be active listeners at this point.  This strategy really helps for students to each get time to interact and share their thoughts and opinions and the group time is not consumed by one or two children that are always participating.
I used this strategy with my group, however, I adapted it a bit to fit the needs of my group and other skills that I needed to cover as well.  I only handed out 1 popsicle stick to each child and they all had to share their thoughts, answers, and opinions about the specific prompt that I chose for the group.  What was most interesting is that these popsicle sticks created and interesting dynamic within the group.  I always find that some of my students tend to lose focus, even during small group time.  However, the talking sticks made them stay more alert and become more active listeners…it was pretty powerful.
After we used the Talking Sticks strategy and discussed a prompt on one of the discussion cards, I had the students continue to share their information about certain prompts with a partner.
I chose 3 or 4 different discussion prompts for the group to work on {which I also adhered to popsicle sticks}.  We discussed each prompt together as a group to ensure they knew how to reword the question and understood what the question was asking of them.  I paired my students up within my group and gave them a prompt.  They had to read the discussion prompt together, each share their thoughts and/or opinions with their partner, and then write the response in their notebook.  They also wrote the prompt # in their notebook so that I know which prompt they already responded to.  What’s also great about these Talking Sticks is that Laura has created them for EACH grade level! Win..Win…for everyone 🙂
Anywhoo….The discussion prompts come in color AND black and white which is PERFECTO!  Now that my students “know” how to use them, I will have my students use them independently during their group time to lead their discussions.  As I said, this set has Talking Sticks for fiction and non-fiction texts which is great.  I am actually planning on using them next week when we are focusing on character traits.  Here are some work samples that my little ones were able to do using Laura’s discussion prompts after we completed the Talking Sticks Strategy…




Next week, when I am teaching Character Traits, I am also going to give the students the small black and white copies of the Talking Sticks Discussion Cards and have them glue the prompts in their reading notebooks as well.
If you are interested in checking out this resource, click the image below to check out Laura’s Talking Sticks Resource.
That’s all for today 🙂  Thanks again for stopping by!
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Anna D.

1 thought on “Talking Sticks with Guided Reading Groups”

  1. Anna, I love the idea of the talking sticks! It is so hard sometimes to get kids engaged in textvtalk, even during reading group! I will definetely check out Laura's resource and hope she has one for 1st grade!

    Love ya!
    First Grade and Flip Flops

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I'm Anna DiGilio

Hi, I'm Anna! I was a primary teacher for over twenty-three years, wife of a firefighter, mother of twin teenage boys, obsessed with being creative and helping teachers and love my Saturday morning quiet cup of coffee!
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Hi, I'm Anna! I was a primary teacher for over twenty-three years, wife of a firefighter, mother of twin teenage boys, obsessed with being creative and helping teachers and love my Saturday morning quiet cup of coffee!
Thanks for stopping by!

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