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SWON News: The Low Down

Innovation Conversation with Buffy Hamilton

Friday, October 16, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Nathan Swartzendruber
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In the classroom, you want every student to be an active participant. That means more than getting everyone to speak up when they're called on. For Buffy Hamilton, author of The Unquiet Librarian blog, the library has become a place to facilitate a more inclusive and energetic form of classroom conversation.

She is using written conversation strategies, an approach learned from the Harvey Daniels book, The Best-Kept Teaching Secret: How Written Conversations Engage Kids, Activate Learning, Grow Fluent Writers . . . K-12. Tables are set up around the room that are covered with butcher paper. At each table is a conversation prompt: an excerpt from an article, or a quotation, or a provocative question related to the overall discussion.

Before any discussion takes place, students are asked to travel the room and write a response at each table. Responses can take many forms, including answers to questions, reframing statements, and asking new questions. As student responses appear, students naturally begin to respond to each other as well.

This round of silent writing might be followed by other activities, as well. By the end of this, they've built up background knowledge by reading the sources at the table. They've written out their ideas and built up new ideas by reading responses from other students. When it's time to speak, they're ready.

We wanted to hear more about this classroom facilitation that Buffy has brought to her school library, so we asked her to join us for the next Innovation Conversation, held next Wednesday (October 21) at 10:30 a.m.

We hope you'll join us also to hear more about the way written conversation strategies work and ways you might integrate them into learning experiences at your library.

  • Nathan Swartzendruber, SWON Technology Educator

Upcoming Innovation Conversations

Put SWON's Innovation Conversations on your calendar for November, December and January, too. At each, we'll hear from a library innovator as they share work that's broken new ground and advanced the mission of their library. We'll hear their stories and ask lots of questions, too.


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