ICTM Takeaways

Here are some of the ideas that stood out to us from the ICTM conference! If you have any questions, would like more information, or would like support implementing one of them in your room, don’t hesitate to reach out to a coach. 🙂

Gamification Idea: Zombie Apocalypse

    • Divide the class into two groups: Zombies (2 students) and Humans (rest of class)
    • Present class with a zombie scenario – Are they they last group of humans on Earth? Trapped somewhere and the zombies are closing in?
    • Pose a question related to your classroom content
    • The first group to answer correctly “wins” that round.
      • If the zombies win, then a human gets infected with the zombie virus and has to join the zombie group. (The teacher then randomly selects the student to move.)
      • If the humans win, they have evaded the zombies for that round.
    • Pose another question, and the pattern repeats.
    • Every now and then, you can get creative and increase the stakes with certain questions. For example, maybe the humans have the chance to enter an old warehouse where there is a vile of zombie-disease antidote. If they can get in/out unscathed by “winning” the question, they get the antidote and can rescue one person from the zombie group. However, there is a chance they could get attacked, and if they don’t “win” the round, they lose two humans.

Three Answer Discussion

      • Provide students with a complex problem or question to grapple with, and allow students some PRT and then time to discuss with an elbow partner or in a small group.
      • Teacher explains that he/she wants to hear three different ideas. (This would be so the first student called on doesn’t feel rejected when the teacher moves on to another student without validating his/her response.)
      • Ask for someone to share out
      • Teacher says something like, “I want to hear from someone else who thought about the question differently or who came to a different conclusion.”
      • Take two more answers
      • Note: This strategy pairs super well with select and sequence. The teacher would be circulating the room and strategically choose the students to share out, possibly including common misconceptions, so students could grapple with with those and perhaps confront misconceptions that they have.
      • Teacher says something like, “You’ve now heard three possible answers to this question. Maybe one is right. Maybe more than one is right. Maybe none are right. Take some time to talk about those three possibilities. You can revise your original answer, you can stay the same, or you can come up with a new solution, but after you have some time to discuss, I’m going to call on groups randomly to share out and to explain/justify their thinking. 

Talk Moves to Support Classroom Discussion

During this session, Jeremiah McGraw talked explicitly about ways to increase discussion in your classroom. He talked about the importance of teaching students that it is okay to disagree, saying that he has been in high school classes before and asked the question “Should you agree with your friends?” and the majority of students nod their heads, making this an important teaching moment.

Mr. McGraw described seven talk moves that lead to rich and engaging lessons, but he also said, “In order to learn how to implement the talk moves, it is important to focus on one at a time. The more they are used, the more the lesson and conversation can flow. However, the use of all seven talk moves does not make a quality lesson. The use of the right talk move at the right time is more important than using them all.”

I’ve attached a picture of the handout he gave in this session, and below it, I have also typed up some of the main points he said about each talk move.

Talk Moves to Support Classroom Discussion – Handout

  1. Revoicing
    1. Teachers tend to get stuck here, rephrasing what students said. To get out of this rut, force yourself to pair it with another talk move.
  2. Repeating
    1. Instead of revoicing yourself, have students repeat or rephrase what someone else said; however, he cautioned against using this as a behavior management tool.
    2. However, he did say that if he sees a student not paying attention, he will find a moment in the conversation that is accessible and say something like, “Johnny, I want you to listen to what Jimmy is saying, and then I’m going to come back to you and ask if you agree or disagree with him, and I’ll want to know why.”
  3. Reasoning
    1. Asking something specifically to explain why they agree or disagree  or whether or not an answer makes sense allows even more students to be active members of the conversation and pushes the conversation to a deeper level.
  4. Adding On
    1. When students starts to share a thought, the teacher can stop them and ask someone else to add on.
    2. When demonstrating this, Mr. McGraw stopped a participant after she provided one step for solving a problem, and then he asked the room, “What do you think she is going to say next? Why would she say that next?” He did this a few times, but then he also stressed the importance of going back to the original participant and checking in with them, asking “Is this what you were going to say/do?” This honors the fact that the thinking began with them.
  5. Wait Time
  6. Turn and Talk
  7. Revise
    1. McGraw talked about this being a culture shift in the room that needs to be modeled by the teacher.
    2. He not only often, after discussion, asks the class if anyone would like to revise their thinking, but he always often mentions “It’s amazing to be wrong because that’s a chance to learn!”

Leveled Turn-In Bins

This is a quick way to see how confident students are feeling with the material, so you know who to check in with at the start of the next day. Also, I’m sure we have all had those students who believe they are experts in the material already, so they check out in class; this would enable the teacher to look at those papers as well and either move those kids to an extension OR have a conversation if the student that feels like an expert isn’t producing expert work.


Bin 1: Novice – “I’m just starting to learn this, and I don’t understand it yet.”

Bin 2: Apprentice – “I can do this if I look at an example and/or get help.”

Bin 3: Practitioner – “I can do this on my own without any help.”

Bin 4: Expert – “I can do this on my own and explain how to do it.”

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