3 Strategies to Get Students TALKING About Their Reading!

A deep understanding of text requires students to be engaged with their reading, and there's no better way for them to do that than to get them talking! For English language learners especially, this couldn't be more important, because their oral proficiency is the foundation of their reading, writing and listening skills.


One way I get my students to discuss their reading in a meaningful way is by using Discussion Cards. Whether it's a whole class discussion, small groups, or a paired activity, the objective is for students to think deeply about their reading and have a meaningful discussion about it.

Link to Discussion Cards

I think it's important to model what having a "discussion" looks and sounds like, so first I'll role play with a student, then as they practice, I'll monitor and support them as needed. The goal with this is for the students to be able to 1 - start a discussion, and then 2 - to maintain it by responding to one another. Discussion group questions that require kids to "dig deep" are a great way to maintain discussions.  

An anchor chart with sentence starters is another great way to support students. In fact, if you have English language learners, I'd say it's a must have. It gives students ideas for discussion topics and sentence frames for responding. 


Any time I can add FUN into a lesson, it's a win-win!  This "Read and Roll" activity gets students talking about their reading, and it's FUN!  What is it about dice?  Kids just can't wait to take a turn at rolling them, especially the BIG dice! :)

second graders 
fifth graders

Another favorite of my students...Question Cubes! These big foam cubes have question starters that are perfect for getting students talking. Typically I start off modeling how to roll the cubes and create a question that relates to the book/passage we are reading, then I hand it over to them, "Student A" rolls the cube and creates a question, then "Student B" responds. If student B needs help, he/she can call on another student for help. They love it when the Question Cubes come out!  To push my ELLs to use their new language, I encourage them to add details to their responses. With any of my students, I might interject and "add-on" a question to push them further in their thinking.
These colorful question dice are from Oriental Trading Company. 

When students talk about their reading, it solidifies their thinking, PLUS they get to hear different perspectives and opinions from classmates, which in turn expands their own understanding even further.

These are three fun and engaging strategies that I use to get my students talking about their reading in a meaningful way. I'd love to hear about an activity that you use that gets your students talking about their reading.

Note:  I am not affiliated with the Oriental Trading Company, the dice are simply an example.

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