A lack of appropriate peer interaction has created a social development drought for some students. The “normal” expectations of behavior have changed and it’s time for our instruction to change with it. Read on to find out how to use social learning routines to increase learning outcomes in the classroom.
“This class is unlike any other I’ve ever had before. They just CANNOT stop talking!”
“I need some ideas to help curb student chatter…”
“The nonstop talking is getting in the way of my instruction. What can I do?”
A common thread that has popped up in our Lucky Teachers online community this school year has been – How do I control the constant student chatter in my classroom? As teachers, we know that every behavior stems from a need. If students are constantly talking in class, their actions are showing that they have a real need for peer-to-peer communication. And who can blame them? The average second grader’s school career so far has been some combination of virtual, hybrid, or in-person learning.
Building Social Capital
Educators have long known that peer influence is a powerful force, for better or for worse. In research done by the Christensen Institute, researchers explored the benefits of building social capital for students.
What is social capital?
According to the author of the research, social capital is the “access to, and ability to mobilize relationships that help further an individual’s potential and goals. Just like skills and knowledge, relationships offer resources that drive access to opportunity.” Simply put, investing in positive relationships with peers builds the skills necessary to be successful in life. Friendships and positive peer networks improve social-emotional well-being and academic progress.
How Can Teachers Use Social Interaction to Increase Learning Outcomes?
Instead of trying to corral the chatter, why not find a way to redirect it? Make student communication a useful part of your daily learning routine with these five tips.
Rethink Classroom Seating
Seat students with their friends – really! Even though sitting near a friend may make for extra chatter, studies have shown that when students have one or more friends nearby, they are actually more likely to be engaged with a lesson, perform better, and have a positive association with learning new things! Or, give flexible seating a try and allow learners to mix with different students throughout the day.
Provide More Opportunities for Student-Led and Cooperative Learning
According to one study, students who worked together to complete a task exhibited more exploratory behavior, learned faster, and completed tasks better than if they worked alone. If you’re tackling a tricky new subject, don’t shy away from using a cooperative learning plan. Research also shows that student-to-student cooperation “promotes greater efforts to achieve, more positive relationships, and greater psychological health than do competitive or individualistic efforts.” Try some of these activities in your classroom to promote social learning:
- Use STEM bins to promote cooperative problem-solving
- Cooperative centers
- Literature circles
- Reader’s Theater, or creating an original performance
Encouraging student-to-student conversations in a relaxed way can improve student learning overall. A 30-second conversation is as simple as it sounds: students are paired together and engage in conversation for 30 seconds. With guidance and practice, students become more familiar with conversation skills like asking questions, responding to questions, and engaging in active listening. For some, social skills are not inherent and need direction and guidance. Our SEL curriculum is filled with lessons, songs, books, and class activities to introduce and expand social skills like empathy, kindness, respect, and cooperation.
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Morning Meeting as a Social Circle
Morning meeting is more important than ever. Change up the classroom routine and choose a different student each day to lead the morning meeting. Allow students to use morning meetings as a forum for communication. This can foster a community of learners and listeners. For more ideas about how to manage morning meetings, check out our 10 Ideas for Morning Meetings.
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Morning Meeting Discussion Slides
Get to Know Your Classmates
Positive peer relations can center on something as simple as one connection or thing in common. Maybe two students who seem to have nothing in common discover they both have a love for the Dogman books. Or perhaps students bond over a game of soccer or Minecraft coding. In order for these connections to happen, help students get to know each other better using the relationship-building activities found in our Back to School Bonus Pack.
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Back to School Bonus Pack
When students are given the opportunity to positively engage with their peers, their overall learning outcomes improve. So – let them talk, let them be little, let them learn from and with each other. The results just may surprise you! As we always say at Lucky Little Learners, “Together We Are Better!”