Many students have learned to play the “game” of school, answering with one word answers or just enough language to get the teacher to move on to someone else. Many just say, “I don’t know,” even if they do know. Or, students are asked to use a sentence starter that they might not fully understand to answer a question to which the teacher already knows the answer. The opposite needs to happen: language is meant to bridge information gaps, to communicate ideas and information to others who don’t already know them—to be used to get things done. Students’ language doesn’t need to be perfect or even correct, but it needs to communicate. If it is fake or just for show, it won’t grow. For the Common Core and other new standards, students need to learn how to use language to clearly communicate, in real time, whole messages that are valued in the discipline. This means that we must help students produce clearer and more complete output.
Opinion Formation Cards (TV)
This activity provides students with an opportunity to build language as they talk with successive partners to strengthen their opinions on an issue.
A-B Information Gap Cards
This activity requires students to take a side of an issue and use new vocabulary and syntax to argue and negotiate with a partner.
This set of tips helps both teacher and students to maximize the value of pair-shares.