A few weeks ago I posted some suggestions in response to a question from a middle school teacher who he was looking for lessons to help students engage in discussions. Today, I came across a new idea (on Facebook, no less): Using Talk Detectives. Edutopia posted this intriguing one-minute video showing how this practice worked in an elementary classroom.
The teacher divided students into groups to discuss Ancient Greek gods. Then she armed two students, who she designated "Talk Detectives," with clipboards that had a rubric of the class's discussion guidelines--things like:
The Talk Detectives' job was to circulate and "spy" to see if they could spot anyone using the discussion guidelines. After the discussion, the "detectives" reported on the good things they saw.
According to the teacher featured in the video, using talk detectives helps students "think about their conversations metacognitively" and boosts effective speaking and listening skills.