Developing Dialogue – Part 2

The following strategies will encourage learning talk.

Think, pair, share

Students have 2 or 3 minutes individual thinking time and then discuss their ideas in pairs before completing the task set or feeding back to the class.


When students get stuck, encourage them to use the 5Bs:




Buddy (sitting next to)

Boss (Teacher)

Not only does this encourage discussion with their peers, but it is also great for developing them as independent learners.

The Thinker’s Keys – by Tony Ryan

20 keys – strategies – that encourage thinking skills.

For example…..


What if there were no drugs?


List 10 words that could not be used to describe Lennie in ‘Of mice and men’?


List 3 disadvantages of the umbrella and suggest improvements


At least one person from every household should go to church every Sunday. Discuss.


The answer is Adolf Hitler, so what was the question?

The rest of the thinker’s keys can be downloaded at


Give students some post its

When they get stuck, write the question on the post it and stick it on the help desk – and their name

If a student knows the answer, they go to that person and help them.

Make it better

Start off with a simple statement e.g. Ice melts.  Go round the room and ask pupils to add to the statement to improve it.

On air

Pass round a large, cut out microphone – whoever has it has to answer the question, ask a question and pass it to somebody else…..

Open questions

  • Is 0.33 bigger than 1/3 or smaller than 1/3 or equal to 1/3
  • What’s similar and what’s different about fractions and ratios?
  • Which is the odd one out:

Bird, cat, fish, elephant? Why

Piece of white paper, mirror, picture, television? Why?

  • Why is ______________________ and example of ___________________?
  • Why might people believe that __________________________?


Students work in pairs as interviewer and interviewee and then swap roles.

Interviewer has to find out set number of things as directed by teacher and report back to class in the role of a news reporter –

“This morning I spoke to … (literary character / historical figure / scientist / person living in country being studied) about… and he/she told me that…”

Provide mock microphones for reporters to use


Students discuss topic as directed by teacher in small groups and each member of the group feeds back to class about another member of the group’s opinion / view / suggestion.

“Leon thinks……because…….”

“Emma likes……..because……”

Exam questions – Paired work

Look at a completed exam paper in pairs.

Use the mark scheme to mark it in pairs.

Discuss common errors in pairs, then as a class

Plan, do and review

This can take place over more than one lesson depending on the task

Students work in groups. Teacher sets a task and students have to agree a plan of action including who will do what, carry it out and review how it went#

Either the teacher or group itself assign roles for group work – so leader / chair, timekeeper, scribe e.g.

  • investigations/surveys
  • planning a presentation
  • designing a poster
  • drama improvisation
  • planning an assembly
  • making a model
  • science experiment
  • charity project
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