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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Class Lesson Talking Stick

Last year after doing my first month of lessons, I felt like students weren't listening to me. I spent most of my time asking students to listen, raise their hands to speak, keep their hands to themselves, etc. I previously wrote a post on my Wall of Fame. I offered rewards to the class in each grade that was most respectful (i.e., eyes on speaker, mouth is quiet, and ears are listening) and participated the best. This requires the class to work together, using Habit 6- Synergize. At the time I also offered die cuts of stars and awards to individual students who were respectful and participating at the suggestion of my principal. I also brought along a beach ball in place of a talking stick.

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When I did a Leader in Me Training as an intern, I got a box set that had two books in it and a Talking Stick. The tradition of using ceremonial talking sticks dates back to Native Americans. The purpose of a talking stick is so that people talk one at a time, instead of talking over each other. In classrooms, we have certain students that always raise their hands. The shy students rarely get a chance to talk and may be afraid to volunteer an answer because of other students who dominate the conversation. The Talking Stick enables everyone to get a turn. Students are required to use Habit 5- Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.

With the idea of the talking stick in mind, I decided I wanted to make my own for use in lessons. To buy myself some time, I used a Beach Ball that Dr. Susan Fuller gave to us at the end of our School Counseling III class on Collaboration and Consultation at Lehigh. Thanks Dr. Fuller! The counselor I interned with in undergrad used a Koosh Ball during lessons. However, I lack hand eye coordination, so the last thing I wanted was a bunch of elementary school kids hitting me in the face with a Koosh Ball. I told students that they had to practice passing the Beach Ball because they wouldn't be able to throw the Talking Stick.

I spent a lot of time looking for ideas on Pinterest. I liked using the talking stick during lessons because I kept it with me when I was talking, reminding students that I had it and would give it to them when I was finished. It worked well, but at times I forgot to pass it to students and would just call on them as I normally would. The other issue, was that it was hard to pass the talking stick to a student that was in the back of the group. Also, some students liked to play with it and hold it more so than actually talk. Since I spent a lot of time two hours making the talking stick, I didn't want kids pulling the beads and feathers off it. Other students would just hold it and stare at it, making something up to say as they went along  just so they could hold the talking stick. You may want to set some ground rules, reminding students to have something to share when they raise their hand to participate and to hold it without playing with it. With all that being said, if you would like to make your very own Talking Stick, please see my instructions below.

Materials for Talking Stick

  • Low-Temp Hot Glue Gun with Glue Sticks
  • 5/16 inch by 12 inch Wooden Dowel
  • Assorted Beads, like this
  • Feathers
  • A 3 yard spool of 3/8 inch Ribbon
  • A spool of 1/8 inch Ribbon, like this 

Instructions for Talking Stick

  1. Hot Glue the 3/8 inch ribbon to one end of the craft dowel. 
  2. Tightly wrap the 3/8 inch ribbon around the craft dowel. 
  3. When you get to the other end of the dowel, cut the 5/8 inch ribbon and hot glue the ribbon to the dowel. 
  4. Cut the 1/8 inch ribbon so it is long enough to tie around the top of the dowel and have the two pieces hang halfway down the talking stick on both sides. 
  5. Tie a knot at the bottom of one end of the 1/8 inch ribbon.
  6. Thread a few beads onto the 1/8 inch ribbon.
  7. Tie the 1/8 inch ribbon around the top of the dowel twice and hot glue the ribbon to the dowel. 
  8. On the unfinished end of the ribbon, tie a feather to the ribbon. 
  9. Cut a piece of 3/8 inch ribbon long enough to make a bow at the top of talking stick.
  10. Tie the bow to the top of the talking stick and you're done.
Feel free to get creative with your talking stick. Get an actual stick and decorate it. Paint it with acrylic or craft paint. If you really want to leave your mark on classrooms use Mod Podge and roll it in glitter. Be warned it will seem like a fairy entered the classroom and the teachers may not like what you leave behind, but it will be unique! There are other ideas on Pinterest. The sky is the limit! If you make a talking stick, be sure to share pictures of yours with me! Let me know if you have any questions!

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