1st Edition

Hands Down, Speak Out Listening and Talking Across Literacy and Math

    Math coach, Kassia Omohundro Wedekind and literacy coach, Christy Hermann Thompson, have spent years comparing notes on how to build effective classroom communities across the content areas. How, they wondered, can we lay the groundwork for classroom conversations that are less teacher-directed and more conducive to student-to-student dialogue?

    Their answers start with Hands-Down Conversations, an innovative discourse structure in which students' ideas and voices take the lead while teachers focus on listening and facilitating. In addition to classrom stories and examples, Christy and Kassia provide 28 micro-lessons designed to help K-5 students develop and excercise their speaking and listening muscles.

    Inside Hands Down, Speak Out you'll learn how to:

    • Build talk communities that are accessible to everyone, especially those whose voices are often traditionally left out of classroom discourse.
    • Analyze classroom conversations in order to plan next steps for developing the classroom talk community
    • Plan and facilitate three types of conversations across literacy and math

    Christy and Kassia believe that the development of dialogue skills is worth the investment of time not only becuase it has the power to deepen our understanding of literacy and mathematics, but also to deepen our understanding of ourselves, our communities, and the world. 

    Section I: A Brief Introdduction to Hands-Down Conversations, the Authors, and Coconuts; Chapter 1: Hands-Down Conversations The Why; Chapter 2: Becoming a Hands-Down Teacher; Chapter 3: Facilitating the Hands-Down Conversation; Section II: Orienting Students to Dialogue The Micro-lessons; Chapter 4: Jumping In; Chapter 5: Talking about our Ideas; Chapter 6: Listening and Linking Ideas 6; Chapter 7: Growing Ideas Together; Section III: Exploring the Crossover; Chapter 8: Nurturing Disagreement; 9: Developing Theories Together; Chapter 10: Engaging with the World; Parting Thoughts


    Kassia Omohundro Wedekind spent many wonderful years as a classroom teacher and math coach in Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia and now splits her time between being an independent math coach and an editor at Stenhouse Publishers. Her favorite days are spent in classrooms learning from the many ways children talk, listen and negotiate meaning together.

    Christy Hermann Thompson is a Literacy Coach in Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. She has spent her teaching and coaching career particularly focused on listening to and learning from the talk of our youngest students.

    “This book challenged me to think about facilitating discussions in a whole new way…So I urge you to gather a few colleagues, read this book together, and waste no time in growing and deepening your practice.”

    —Elham Kazemi, coauthor of Intentional Talk: How to Structure and Lead Productive Mathematical Discussions and coeditor of Choral Counting & Counting Collections: Transforming the PreK-5 Math Classroom

    “This work has the potential to transform learning communities and lift all individuals within the community. Today is the perfect day to get started!” 

    —Maria Nichols, author of Comprehension through Conversation and Building Bigger Ideas

    “[Hands Down, Speak Out] is both a timely book and a timeless book…This is the kind of book that I believe will inform teaching and learning for years to come.”

    —Vivian Maria Vasquez, author of Negotiating Critical Literacies with Young Children and Getting Beyond “I Like the Book”: Creating Space for Critical Literacy in K-6 Classrooms