In the beginning of this year, however, I didn't see how it would be possible. My kids have a difficult time forming sentences and some of them are non-verbal. Asking them to talk to each other didn't seem very fair or productive. So I sadly let it go as one of those "that's for other classrooms".
In the beginning of March, however, I was at a training with some general education teachers from my school who were talking about different ways to use turn and talk in the classroom. At first I started to get nostalgic for the days when I could get powerful whole class discussions from turn and talk. Then I started to wonder why I needed to be nostalgic Listening to the group of teachers talk I realized that I didn't have to give it up. I just needed to modify it, and make it an accessible strategy for my students. There was still value in doing it, and if introduced correctly, my kids could still benefit from it just as much as the general education students.
SO, I started with the weather.
We talk about the weather every. single. day. I know I'm personally tired of charting the weather, but its one of those routines that you just do.
So why not turn weather into a time for talking?
I set up my class ipad with the Answers HD app which works as an assisted communication device. My non-verbal kiddos can look the picture choices of the weather and hit the ipad button in order to tell their partner what the weather is. If I didn't have the ipad, however, I would just use a sheet with weather choices on it so that the children could point to what they thought the weather was that day.
In the beginning- and by beginning I mean first two weeks- it was painful. I'd ask them to talk to their partner and give them a partner and they'd still sit quietly. I had to model it. And model it. And model it. But the
Now that we've got it down we're ready to generalize our partner-talking skills into academic areas. I can start asking them to partner-talk during reading and math lessons as a way, just like with the general education population- to get the more involved and active during a lesson. AND, now if they are in the general education classroom and are asked to turn and talk they'll know exactly what to do. It makes inclusion that much easier.