Creating the Confidence To
Respond: A Positive
He put down $10.00 at the window. The
woman behind the window gave $4.00.
The person next to him gave him $3.00,
but he gave it back to her. So, when
they went inside, she bought him a
large bag of popcorn.
• S1: there’s a man, and he’s on a date, and they’ve gone to the movies. It costs $3.00
to get in and he’s paid her way, but she doesn’t want him to do that, so she buys the
• Me: why do you think they’ve gone to the movies?
• S1: because it says he paid her and he paid her at the window…
S2: …and popcorn, he like bought popcorn and you do that at a movie…
S3: yeah but it was cheap or maybe like olden times because, look, it was only like
Me: What was $3.00?
S3: the movie.
Me: How do you know the movie cost $3.00?
S4: well, look it was $10.00 and then he got $4.00, so that means it was $6.00 in two
so that is $3.00. See?
S5: …well, it could have been a matinee.
S6: nah, not even matinees are like that cheap. This was really long ago.
S3: or maybe they’re like old, you know like senior discount…
S1: oh yeah, the over sixty card..
S3: okay so maybe like over sixty and a matinee…
S4: okay but you don’t get two discounts.
S7: and if they were like old then why would they be on a date?
S8: old people can date. My grandma started dating again when she was old. But I
don’t think that if women date that the women want to pay their own way….
A 2nd Class:
• Me: well what can you tell me about this passage? (Silence) what do
you think is happening in this paragraph?
• S1: this doesn’t make any sense.
• S2: it sort of does, down here, with the popcorn, then you get the idea
it’s about going to a movie..
• S3: it doesn’t say anything about a movie.
• S2: no, but they bought tickets and [cut off..]
• S4: where do you get that they bought tickets?
• S2: here, where it says he gave her the money at the window.
• S1: I don’t get it.
• S4: Me neither.
• S5: What is this: “the person next to him gave him $3.00”?
• S4: this is stupid.
• What made the difference in the two
Having a positive classroom environment gave
the advanced class the confidence to
respond and take risks…
If the classroom has a negative environment
students will not participate or feel
comfortable being wrong.
• If teachers foster a positive classroom
environment students will be more likely to
participate and volunteer.
• A positive environment helps to create
students with thoughtful literacy skills
• Students learn more if they’re engaged in the
materials and students engage more when
they feel comfortable and confident.
• Know Each Other’s Names:
– It’s not just about knowing their name, it’s about
knowing what person goes with the name..and who
that person is!
– This makes the student feel like they belong in the
room…and they are a part of the class!
– It’s harder to disrespect someone when you know
their name… ex) “Kari you’re so dumb!” Is a lot
harder than “man that girl in the third row is stupid.”
• Zero Tolerance for Put-Downs:
» Requires Vigilance
» The best thing you can do is stop put downs!
» It lets students know belittling remarks through
written language, spoken language, or body
language will not be tolerated..
» Ex) Bell Ringing
And More Strategies…
• Three Opportunities to Participate:
» Allow student to write down their response first…
» Then do small group discussion so students can
run their answers by their peers…
» Then allow for whole class discussion where
students who feel confident enough can
• Give Students the Smart Words!
» Make charts both small and large (for desk or
» Students don’t always have the words to
describe what they’re reading
» Give them the words!
Ex) See Handout
Why are some students reluctant
to participate in discussion?
Fear of ridicule
Fear of being wrong
Not enough time to consider the
material or question
Do not yet understand the material and
afraid to ask a question
Teacher is not clear about whether or
not participation is expected
• Our Guidelines for
• Think Aloud: Here’s how
we would guide a
discussion in our
Examples of Our Guidelines
• 1) We cannot be blamed for the
misinformation we have learned, but we will
be held responsible for repeating
misinformation after we have learned
• 2) We will share information about our groups
with other members of this group and we will
never demean, devalue, or in any way “put
down” people for their experiences.
• To help students begin discussion or be able
to communicate on controversial topics..give
them smart phrases
• “I understand your position, but I don’t
• “As I see it..”
• “I hear what you’re saying, but I would like to
• Come up with your own guidelines for your
classroom including the responsibilities of the
teacher..and the responsibilities of the
• Write down what guidelines you personally
• In small groups choose the 3 guidelines your
group feels is most important
• Finally, would anyone like to share their
guidelines with us?
• Students are more likely to participate in
discussions if they feel safe.
• It is important for the teacher and students to
develop guidelines for class discussions, and for
school psychologists and administrators to help
• Teaching smart words & phrases equips students to
• Constantly assess the climate in the classroom and
employ exercises to build trust.
• Encourage discussion by giving students control of
topics and direction of discussion.
• How can you use the strategies we’ve
just taught you in your future career or
• School Counselor
• School Psychologist
• Teacher, Curriculum and Instruction, Special
• Literacy Specialist