Upper Elementary Classroom Organization

Supporting ELL Students–Turn and Talk/Partner Wheel

I’m trying something new this year to give more structure to the old ‘Turn and Talk.’  Even though I teach upper elementary, we still come to the rug for lessons and read-alouds.  I love my easel and I like having my students nearby when we’re trying something new.  The problem was that when I asked them to turn and talk about something, some students opted to sit silent because they didn’t know who to turn and talk to, while other students spent a few minutes scooting closer to their BFFs or trying to find someone to turn and talk to.  At their assigned seats, they talked with their shoulder partner, but on the rug they were lost.  This was wasted time.  There had to be a better way!

Turn and Talk  or Partner Wheel for 5th Grade ELL Students

Enter the ‘Turn and Talk’ or partner wheel!  Here’s how it works:

1–Post the wheel in the classroom and turn the inner circle once a week.  This will be a student’s ‘turn and talk’ partner when they come to the rug.  You can spin more often if you like.

2–Teach students that when it is time to meet on the rug (yes, I still say that to my 5th graders), they need to sit beside their partner.

That’s it.  It was very easy to make and only required some poster board, brads, scissors, and markers PLUS something to trace the inner and outer circles.  I traced the lid to a bucket for the larger circle and a paper plate for the inner circle.   In hindsight, I think I would have laminated before adding numbers so that I could use a dry erase marker and switch things up from time to time.

NOTE–Turn and talk is part of “Structured Conversations,” from the book “Seven Steps to a Language Rich Classroom” by John Seidlitz.  It’s a strategy for building language with ELL students, but I’ve found it really benefits ALL students.  It’s a must read if you work with English language learners.

Best Book for Building Language With ELL Students--Seven Steps to a Language Rich Classroom