• Strategy: Supporting Youth Development Through STEM
  • Skill: Giving Youth Control
  • Date: February 28, 2022

Three Talk Moves to give Youth Control of Learning

3 Talk Moves to Give Youth Control of Learning

Simple conversational prompts — such as questions, comments and hints — can be used to encourage engagement and productive discussion among young learners. When guiding a learning experience with a specific goal in mind, these prompts become powerful instructional tools called talk moves.

Educators looking to help youth listen more carefully to one another, for example, may ask students to repeat or rephrase someone else’s response. With this talk move, youth are discouraged from “checking out” when another student is called upon. This teaches youth be more attentive and promotes a culture of listening.

Giving youth more control of their learning has shown to be an effective way to increase their interest in STEM subjects. By allowing youth to explore STEM in a way that’s meaningful to them, they become active learners, users and contributors. However, giving youth control can mean a big shift in pedagogy.

To give youth more control during STEM learning, start by trying out a few simple talk moves.

1. Voicing Ideas

Ask students about their thinking during STEM learning activities.

  • “What do you think is happening here?”
  • “Tell me why you think that’s not working.”
  • “How did you arrive at that conclusion?”

2. Giving a Choice in Inquiry

As students are working on a hands-on activity, ask them about their plans. This encourages authentic science as the flexibly move across talk activities.

  • “What are you going to do next?”
  • “What would happen if you tried ___?”

3. Connecting across Learning Spaces

Ask students what this activity reminds them of in their lives. This validates the other kinds of learning they do.

  • “Have you ever seen anything like this before?”
  • “When could you use this in the future?”