Tips for Tightening up the 10/2 & Student Interactions

Fall is in the air, and schools across the country are in full swing! Teachers are busy building and deepening relationships with and among students, delivering content, and developing academic language skills with their students. One of the common strategies that teachers implement as they engage their students is the “turn and talk,” or 10/2. The concept of the 10/2 refers to providing an opportunity for students to process information, for about 2 minutes, after every about 10 minutes of instruction.

The 10/2 is a pivotal Be GLAD strategy. The 10/2 not only provides an opportunity for students to process information, but also helps students to refocus their attention back on the content. Attention spans vary depending, in part, on the age of a person. Generally, the younger the student, the shorter the attention span. Given this, ten full minutes of instruction may be a bit long for some students, and older students may be able to attend to content for a bit longer. That said, it is not recommended that we spend much more than 10 or 15 minutes on instruction before providing the 10/2.

To have students engage in the 10/2, you will need to consider a few elements:

  1. Develop a prompt: The best prompts are specific; they state what students should discuss. Consider adding a number into the prompt if appropriate, so that students have an idea of how much, or how little, they should talk about. In addition, 10/2 prompts are a great place to incorporate higher order thinking practices.

  2.  Which language(s) will students utilize? Assure that students know that you are asking them to discuss the content being learned, and that this is both an opportunity to process information as well as a time to practice utilizing the academic language and vocabulary they are learning. For information processing, it may be helpful to have students speak in the language they are most comfortable speaking, be it English, in a formal or informal register, or another language.

  3. How many in the discussion? Decide if you want students to talk in pairs, triads, or small groups. Each grouping structure has merits; discussion in pairs allows for more students talking at the same time, as 50% of the students are talking at once. In triads, it is 33% of the students talking at once, 25% in groups of four, and so forth. While pairs allow more students to talk and practice language, triads and groups of four provide additional perspective and ideas. If one student does not have something to contribute initially, another may, and that in turn might spark additional ideas in the group.

  4. Be explicit in your expectations: Students should know that during this time, everyone should have an opportunity to speak. Each student should speak during the 10/2, and they should strive for roughly equal participation.

  5. Build structure: In order to encourage students to participate equally, consider building in a structure for student discourse. For example, give guidance as to which student will talk first, and for how long. You might use specific criteria such as: “Decide who is partner A (for Awesome) and who is partner B (for Brilliant). Partner B will go first and talk for about one minute. Then it will be Partner A’s turn.”

  6. Provide support: Consider adding in sentence frames, sentence starters, and or specific vocabulary that students should incorporate into their conversations. This can help to increase the level of academic discourse during the 10/2, as appropriate.

  7. Use your “teacher ear”: As students engage in discourse, walk around and listen in to the conversations. As students finish up their conversations, if there is time remaining or the teacher has not refocused them on instruction or another task, they will switch conversation topics. Often, students will begin talking about something relevant to them, but not necessarily content or topic related. This is normal behavior that most everyone (including adults) engages in. If one team is done but several other pairs or groups are still deep in discussion, you might refocus that group or wait just another minute or two to bring the class back together to refocus. You might also hear a dip, slight or significant, in the noise level overall during the 10/2, and then another escalation in the noise level. This indicates that collectively, the group has finished talking about the topic, has briefly paused, and then the conversation topic has changed or shifted. This is another indication that it is time to bring the group back for whole group instruction or discussion.

  8. Build in accountability: Students can be held accountable by having a few students share what was discussed. This can be worded as “what is something you and your partner/team discussed” or “what is something your partner mentioned?” Use the numbered heads strategy to call on students randomly, and have them share what was discussed. Students can be asked to utilize gestures as they share as well.

  9. Be strategic: not every 10/2 needs to be shared in a group discussion. Sharing as a group can help to clarify concepts and misconceptions, bring up salient points, and affirm and validate student thinking. That said, they take up valuable class time, so be strategic as to when you have people share with the whole group.

  10. Add writing: Another tool is to build in a writing opportunity for students, before, during, or after the 10/2. This can be done in the form of a learning log, as a “stop-and-jot,” or a quick sketch. This can also provide a level of accountability as the teacher can use this information as a formative assessment tool.

Try these out!

Having students engage in conversation has been a long-standing effective practice in education, and a GLAD strategy from the beginning. Students absolutely need opportunities to clarify and solidify concepts, deepen their knowledge, make connections to their funds of knowledge, and to practice the language of the content concepts they are learning. By tightening up the 10/2, we can make this practice even more valuable and more positively impact students’ content and language learning.

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