UKEdMag: Book Review – Talk-Less Teaching by @WallaceIsabella & @LeahKirkman

Book review originally appeared in the July 2014 Edition of UKEdMagazine. Click here to read the review in our free online magazine.

Talk-Less Teaching: Practice, Participation and Progress

 by: Isabella Wallace and Leah Kirkham

The voice of a teacher is arguably one of the most important assets in the armoury of tools required every day. It’s so precious, in fact, that it should be protected and used with great care as it can convey so many messages throughout the school day.

In fact, sometimes we can all over-talk when we are in teacher mode; we get carried away labouring our teaching point that pupils switch off to the main idea we’re trying to convey. We’ve all been in meetings when someone in higher authority is rambling away their really important message, only to suddenly realise we’ve been mentally somewhere else for the last ten minutes, with no idea what the person is going on about. (Review continues below image)


In their book ‘Talk-Less Teaching’ by Isabella Wallace and Leah Kirkham, explore techniques on which teachers can draw to help pupils embed learning and make progress without the need for long periods of teacher talk to keep the class spellbound. Indeed, the authors offer valid reasons as to why talking too long can reveal problems with this method of teaching: talking can be misused as an alternative to thoughtful planning, meaning that differentiation goes out of the window; long teacher-talk sessions mean less thinking time for pupils; lack of getting feedback from your learners, to demonstrate any progress; and ultimately can result in a sore throat.

Tailoring your teaching to the needs of every learner can sound like a challenge, but the book encourages chameleon teaching, where you adapt for the different needs of each group of pupils. This makes sense, but it’s also about being aware of the subtle signals which pupils convey back to you and adapting mid-session (yes, going off-plan if needed) using strategies offered in the book like The Wonderball, Boarding/landing cards, or The Walking Chocolate Bar (disappointingly, no real chocolate is used for this exercise!). There are many strategies on offer throughout this useful book supported by example resources and illustrations created by Sally Townsend.

We sometimes review books which are ideal mainly for primary or secondary teachers, however this book can be used across all phases of teaching with the strategies offered being easily adaptable for the pupils you have the joy of teaching. The main forte of this book is the variety of practical activities which place the talk and focus on the pupils learning rather than relying on your most valuable asset as a person – your voice. This book will give you the confidence to step off your soapbox and engage your pupils further in their own learning journey.


Talk-Less Teaching: Practice, Participation and Progress is published by Crown House Publishing  and is priced on Amazon ( £16.99* for the paperback and £10.44* on Kindle. Click on the Amazon link below to view online.

*Correct at the time of publishing


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About @digicoled 446 Articles
Colin Hill - Founder, researcher and editor of ukedchat. Also a bit of a tech geek! Project management, design thinking, and metacognition.

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