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How do you talk to your students?

June 2, 2012

Yesterday I took part in a discussion with faculty as part of a Collaborative Self-Study of Linguistic Diversity. As a member of this study, I have had wonderful opportunities to reflect, grow professionally, and learn from colleagues during this past semester. Our focus is English Language Learners, but of course, being typical teachers, our conversation quickly included what is best for all our students and how do we meet each individual’s needs. We talked about how we interact with students and create positive classroom climates that promote relationships of mutual respect.

Part of our conversation focused on the language we use with students, especially English Language Learners. We focused on language development levels and specific examples of various uses of language in school. Ideas were shared and books recommended.

As I prepared for today’s blog post, I thought many of you would be interested in those book recommendations for summer reading. Books that help us examine our words and the way we talk with our students, would definitely be a positive pursuit for professional growth. You may want to read alone during quiet times or consider for a teacher book club.

Below are three books I plan to revisit or add to my reading list for the coming weeks. Thank you colleagues for the excellent suggestions!

What are you reading this summer? We would love to hear your suggestions.


Linda C.

  • Johnston, P. (2004). Choice words: How our language affects children’s learning. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

I have read and recommend this book.

In productive classrooms, teachers don’t just teach children skills: they build emotionally and relationally healthy learning communities. Teachers create intellectual environments that produce not only technically competent students, but also caring, secure, actively literate human beings.

Read a Review @ Goodreads

  • Johnston, P. (2012). Opening minds: Using language to change lives. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

A new book that is now on my reading list.

Grounded in research, Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives shows how words can shape students’ learning, their sense of self, and their social, emotional and moral development. Make no mistake: words have the power to open minds – or close them.

Read a Review @

  • Denton, P. (2007). The power of our words: Teacher language that helps children learn. Turner Falls, ME: Northeast Foundation for Children, Inc.

Thoughtful use of language is an often-overlooked component of the teacher’s repertoire. However, the words, phrases, tone, and pace used daily in the classroom have the power to help students develop self-control, build their sense of belonging, and gain skills and knowledge.

Read a Review @

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Betsey Folsom permalink
    June 2, 2012 8:45 am

    I always use Tier 2 and 3 words when talking with my students. If they don’t know the words we talk about the context to guess the meaning and see if their synonym makes sense. I also have a quote on my board every week that addresses learning and/or character. We discuss it’s meaning and connect it to our lives. When my children have earned 10 minutes of free time, we play games and talk to each other during those.

    • June 2, 2012 9:43 am

      Thanks Betsey! I appreciate the work you do with our children.

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