Introduction to Accountable Talk With "Big Anthony and the Magic Ring"

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SWBAT participate in conversations with diverse partners, follow agreed upon rules for discussion, build on their partners talk through several exchanges, ask questions about key details in the story, and clarify ideas that aren't understood.

Big Idea

In this lesson, students will take a more active role in their learning by discussing a read aloud with their partners. The teacher will become more of a facilitator in the lesson and allow the children to "wrangle" with the content.

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

I did this lesson at the beginning of the year. We are establishing routines so we will be able to use our accountable talk throughout the school year as we establish agreed upon rules.  As students learn the rules for accountable talk they are addressing standards SL1.1 and SL1.1a.

The Common Core Standards really stress listening and speaking.  The easiest way to get your kids talking is through the use of accountable talk during your read aloud time. If you look through the Common Core Standards you won't find the term "accountable talk" anywhere.  What you are going to find is the phrase "collaborative conversations."  You may already be implementing accountable talk in your lessons - you just don't know it yet.  Young children learn a lot through using language, so by having them discuss the story I read to them in this lesson, they can talk through difficult ideas and learn from each other.

I don't want my students talking just for the sake of talking.  I need to teach them how to carry on a conversation.  I want students to be able to build on each others thoughts and ask their partner questions if they don't understand what their partner is saying.  By doing this, students also engage with standards SL1.1b and SL1.1c.

Today I am going to be reading a story and asking students questions about the story. Partners will respond to the question and students will also ask their partner to clarify if they don't understand what their partner is saying. This addresses standards SL1.2, and SL1.3. As students answer questions, I want them to use evidence from the text, describing characters, setting and events from the story. I also want them to talk to their partners in complete sentences.  This addresses standards SL1.4 and SL1.6.

You can use any book for this activity.  I've chosen to use "Big Anthony and the Magic Ring" by Tomie dePaola.  I love using his books because they contain complex text and I can ask a lot of thought provoking questions of my students, which helps lay the foundation for RL.1.1.  You will also want to make some accountable talk necklaces for each student in your classroom using these cards Accountable Talk Stem Cards.docx.  These necklaces are great resources for your students to remind them of what their role is during the lesson. You will also want a copy of the questions for the story Big Anthony Questions.docx so you can preview the text and know where to stop to ask questions.

Strategic Partnering of Students

5 minutes

I know that its important for my students to be able to work with every peer in their class, not just their good friends.  I mix up my partner groups every single day.  I've found some great resources online to share with you here fun_ways_to_group_students.pdf, here sorting sticks.pdf, and here PartnerPickingCards.pdf. We always pick partners in a different way because I don't want my students to become bored with the partner picking process, I want them to stay engaged, even if its something as simple as determining their partner.

After partners have been grouped  I have them decide who will be Person 1 and who will be Person 2.  Each person will have a job and this ensures that both partners each take a turn listening and speaking, and no one dominates the conversation.

After partners have decided who is person one and two I handed each student a necklace.  Person 1 started off as the speaker and looked at the card with the mouth on it.  Person 2 started off as the listener and looked at the card with the ear on it.

Modeling Section (I Do)

5 minutes

I gathered my students on the carpet. Partners were sitting next to each other.  I said, "Today boys and girls we are going to focus on our accountable talk.  You will see that if you are a person 1 that you have a card with a mouth on it.  If you are a person 2 you have a card with an ear on it.  These cards tell you what you are going to be responsible for today with your accountable talk.   If you are a Person 1 you are going to speak first.  This is what you are responsible for:

  • Looking at my partner
  • Telling my partner what I think
  • Use evidence from that text
  • Use evidence from the illustrations
  • Speaking in complete sentences

If you are a Person 2 you are going to listen first.  This is what you are responsible for:

  • Looking at my partner
  • Listening carefully to my partner
  • Asking my partner “Why do you think that?”
  • Asking my partner “What is your evidence?”

Does everyone understand what they are responsible for?  I am going to start us off and I am going to model exactly what I want to see from you. I am going to choose ________ as a partner.  ( I chose someone who can read the card independently and is pretty good with reading comprehension so they could model this well with me.)  Look and listen carefully."

Then I read and asked the first question.  I said, "OK.  I'm person 1 so I have to look at my partner and tell them what I think.  Well, I think that spring fever is feeling tired because he wants to go and play because the weather is nice now after a snowy winter. Now my partner has to look at me and listen to what I just said.  What did I just say spring fever meant ____________? Now what do you have to ask me ____________? " My partner asked me why I though this and what my evidence was.   I answered, "Well if I look at the picture Big Anthony is leaning against  his shovel and he looks sad at the bottom of the page.  The story also says he is dragging his feet.  That tells me that he is probably tired."  I also told the students that we will have time to share our ideas with the whole class.

I asked the students if they understand what to do.  I told them I would be looking and listening to make sure they really pay attention and do their jobs.  I also told them that after they take turns with their card, they will get to switch jobs with their partner for the next turn.  This way each partner will have a turn at listening and speaking.

Guided Practice (We Do)

20 minutes

I have seen that by adding your accountable talk into my read alouds that my read aloud time becomes a lot longer.  I have found that even though it takes more time now, the benefits really outweigh the time constraints.  My students now speak in complete sentences and those students who have problem speaking with incorrect syntax are improving. I'm also seeing that listening comprehension is much deeper than it was when we first started our accountable talk routine. This is because I have transferred the listening responsibility to the students.  They now know that they will be responsible for talking to their partner so their listening becomes sharper.

I continued reading the book and stopped at the pages that I had marked.  I allowed partners about a minute to discuss .  Then we discussed the question as a whole class. Whole group discussion is critical. I called on a student and asked what they thought.  Then I asked the class, "What do you think about that?"  When they disagree with each other, I have taught my class to say, "I respectfully disagree."  Then they have to tell me why they disagree.  If they give me an answer that seems to come out of left field, I keep pushing.  I ask "What is the evidence in the text that made you think that?"  Even if they do give me a correct answer, I ask another student what they think. 

I call on about 2-4 students for each question.  My students really get frustrated with me when I move on to the next page.  They really want to share their opinions and the better they are becoming with accountable talk, the more they want to participate!

After students have shared and you have discussed as a class,  I have the partner groups switch their roles.  Their responsibilities change and each partner will now have a fair chance at doing both jobs as listener and speaker.

I continue in this manner until I have reached a stopping point for the day because of time (yes, you sometimes can only read half of a book in a day) or if I have finished the book. I decided to do this lesson in one day so my class finished the book.


5 minutes

I am really trying to work on making my closures engaging this year.  I found this resource 40_ways_to_leave_a_lesson.pdf online and have really been trying to do some of the closure activities. 

I gave each of my students a post it note.  I said, "Today's closure is called 3-2-1.  I want you to write 3 things that you learned today.  Some of them could be about the story and some of them could be about your role as a speaker and listener.  Then I want you to write 2 questions that you still have and 1 thing that you really want me to know about what you think is important."   I had them post them on our door as an exit ticket.