Collaborative Group Talk
Language Frame: Students use a structure for answering a prompt or question orally or in writing.
Language Frame: Students use a structure for answering a prompt or question orally or in writing.

Talk Stems

Heather provides her students with a reference sheet containing accountable talk stems. Heather introduces her students to accountable talk stems by modeling to her students how to use the stems. Heather's students then use accountable talk stems as they engage in group discussions.  

About This Strategy
prep time:
Short
Grade Level: Fifth grade
Teaching Challenge: Collaborative Group Talk
Heather Robinson
Desert Canyon Elementary
Scottsdale, AZ
Strategy Implementation Questions
Questions to think about when implementing the strategy
  • How could these talk stems support students to engage in conversations with peers?
  • How could you modify these talk stems for your students?
Lesson Notes

One method for supporting special education students with this strategy is to preview the talk stems and to practice each one prior to using them in class. Although the stems may seem clear, some students may need them to be further broken down or explained before they are able to use them independently.


Accountable Talk is not new, but seems to be gathering steam with Common Core implementation.  In a nutshell, it's an opportunity for students to learn how to speak clearly and listen attentively to one another's conversations which greatly increases their ability to learn. The respect for listening that automatically follows when a classroom adapts this technique, is also amazing.

The kids return from recess and find a slim piece of paper on their desks- the Accountable Talk Stems.  They talk with their classmates for a few minutes as everyone is coming in and the conversations include things like: "What IS this?" / "We all have one" / "What does CLARIFY mean?"

After everyone's sitting, I tell them that we're going to be learning a new way to communicate with each other.  Almost on cue, they begin to talk.  I quiet them down and ask for a volunteer to restate what I just said.  As the student repeats something like, "Mrs. Robinson wants to teach us a new way to communicate," I immediately model one of the stems and say, "I would like to add to what ______ just said.  By learning how to communicate differently, I expect that you will have more respect for each other's ideas and a better way to get your own point across."

I ask them to tape the Accountable Talk Stems to the corner of their desks. 

About This Strategy
prep time:
Short
Grade Level: Fifth grade
Teaching Challenge: Collaborative Group Talk
Heather Robinson
Desert Canyon Elementary
Scottsdale, AZ
Artifacts
Instructional Resource
Lesson File:Accountable Talk Stems
This is an image of a bookmark reminder of Accountable Talk Stems.
Students In Action
Lesson File:Example of Accountable Talk
In the video, students participate in a discussion using Accountable Talk Stems.