Amazing and Amazed

Here’s the short version:

If you have never folded Talking Points into your lessons, you should find out how HERE or  PERHAPS HERE  and do it. It is totally worth every minute in any content area.

Here’s the long version:

Jackie and I launched Talking Points last Friday, the first time for either of us. We didn’t present it at all like we had planned due to technical snafus, but I think the wing-it method we came up with worked just fine, if not perhaps better.

We projected only the first TP, verbally explained the process, and took questions. Then with two student volunteers, modeled all 3 rounds of the TP.   Jackie decided to play a role in which she changed her mind, I pushed the growth mindset message, and the student volunteers were very natural and took their job seriously.

We let the students know we were all new to this protocol, so mistakes might be made, and that’s OK.   That this was not for a grade, that there were no right answers, and they were not trying to get a consensus. That this activity supported the math practices, especially viable arguments and listening to/critiquing the reasoning of others (a life skill, BTW). We passed out two sets of 5 TPs, set the timer for 8 minutes, and said GO. Jackie and I roamed the room listening in, only intervening a couple of times in regards to the following the protocol.


After the timer went off, we stopped and asked for some feedback. What did you group do well? What did you find challenging? Did anyone change their minds?

We had just enough time to spend on the last 5 TPs. We collected their papers and thanked them for working so hard.


After 4 classes of Talking Points, we debriefed.

We noticed:

  • Students were very engaged the entire time.
  • They took it seriously and we heard a lot of thoughtful and interesting reasoning.
  • There was usually at least one person in each group that would help keep the group focused.
  • The time went very quickly.
  • It was HARD to not respond to what students were saying.
  • Students interpreted the statements in a variety of ways, sometimes unexpected.
  • The routine was POWERFUL: every student had a voice today, every student was listened to.
  • Students were very respectful.
  • We heard a mix of fixed and open mindsets.
  • Students were willing to change their minds.
  • TP is challenging for Newcomer ELD students.

We wondered:

  • Is there a way to collect data on which students changed their minds? On which points? (Still thinking about this.)
  • Do we need or want group tallies? What is the best way to collect them? (Don’t yet know.)
  • What will we (especially Jackie) do with this data?
  • Is it possible to have just 1-2 Talking Point as a opener to a lesson? (We think yes!)
  • As a formative assessment? (Maybe so– student familiarity with the format may prove helpful!)

Before we ran out of time (or answered all of our questions), we turned our attention to next Monday’s lesson, Ratios of Fluids*. I had come up with 6 TPs (detailed last post    next post) to open the lesson, and Jackie thinks maybe she’ll just use the two she feels are most related to the lesson goals. Unfortunately, we had to stop before we were done thinking and reflecting.  Teachers just don’t have enough time!

All in all, a truly loverly day! I am pretty sure I took over the class way too much, and am definitely going to have to figure out how to back off and support Jackie and her learning.

*I plan to post my proposal/take. Plan. As in it might happen.  Or not.

PS. Jackie texted me this:  We did great together.  I felt good all day.   That makes me so happy!


2 thoughts on “Amazing and Amazed

  1. I absolutely love to hear things teachers learn during a Talking Points activity because it is one of my favorite activities! I use it for community and content and I learn so much about my students each time! Thank you so much for sharing! I can’t wait to read more about your journey together!


    1. Thanks, Kristin! I’ve been itching to try it and am so grateful my friend has welcomed me into her room. We see so much potential to use Talking Points for different purposes. Pretty exciting!


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