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Clock Talk Teaching Strategy

The clock talk teaching strategy is a lesson technique to get students sharing their ideas with a variety of classmates.

The clock talk teaching strategy is a great teaching technique to get students sharing their ideas with a variety of classmates. This teaching strategy is perfect to use at the start of the year to encourage students to meet new peers and not always work with the same group of students.

How Does This Clock Talk Teaching Strategy Work?

  1. Have students draw a blank clock face or an appointment book page on a sheet of paper.  Next, have students mark several appointment slots on these clocks or in these books. For instance, if you are going to have students have three appointments, have them mark an open slot at 4, 8, and 12 o’clock or any other time slots you like. 
  2. Now have students circulate around the room, find partners who have open slots at the same time as they do, and schedule these partners in the open slots. For example, Student A might ask Student B, “Do you have a 4 o’clock open?”  If the answer is yes, both Student A and B should write the other’s name in their 4 o’clock slot. Don’t be hesitant to schedule many slots.  
  3. Begin class discussion. This might be a whole-class discussion, or the discussion might be done in small groups. If you are in small groups, form these before students schedule partners for their appointments, as the partners should not be from their small groups.
  4. Periodically during discussion, tell students that it is time to go to one of their appointments.  Be specific–“It is now time to go to your X o’clock appointment.” Set a specific length for the appointment–one to three minutes is usually good.  Give students a specific topic to discuss in that appointment.  It could be to share what they think about the current class discussion topic, share the thoughts and ideas from their respective current small-group discussions, or it could be a new topic/question that you pose to the class specifically for that appointment.
  5. At the end of the appointment time, have students return to the whole-class discussion or to their respective small groups and continue until it is time for the next appointment.

How Do I Use This Clock Talk Teaching Strategy?

  1. Clock talk discussions are a great way to break up and add variety to regular whole-class or small-group discussions.
  2. Clock talk discussions work very well to extend debate. Have a whole-class discussion on a topic where all the sides are laid out, and initial opinions are expressed, and then move into several different consecutive appointments. Students have a chance to really think about the topic and the different sides and then discuss them one-on-one with several partners.
  3. Clock talk discussions can be used to review new learnings. Instead of a large or small-group discussion, have students work on their own or in very small groups to solve a difficult problem or practice some new skills. This could be solving a challenging math problem, using a new sentence diagramming structure, developing a hypothesis in Science class, or even researching some topic in history.  
  4. If you are using this strategy online, have the students agree to meet using a school-approved video/voice program, i.e. Zoom, Google Meet, MS Teams. If your video platform allows teachers to create breakout rooms, then you can set up clock appointments to meet in these breakout rooms.

Why Do I Love This Clock Talk Teaching  Strategy?

  1. These discussions help to get everyone participating in classes by scheduling several times throughout the period where all students participate in their partner discussions.
  2. Clock talk appointments get students up and moving and not just sitting at their desks.

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