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Facilitating Communication and Conversation


The Talking Sticks strategy is adapted from the resource, From Tutor Scripts to Talking Sticks: 100 Ways to Differentiate Instruction in k-12 Inclusive Classrooms by Paula Kluth and Shiela Danaher.

As discussed in this month’s Tip of the Month, this strategy provides students with a visual support for initiating and maintaining conversations.

Materials needed:

  • Popsicle/craft sticks
  • Fine-tipped marker
  • Plastic cups/jars


  1. Brainstorm questions that students can ask one another to stimulate conversation. For fun questions ideas check out this icebreaker ideas website.. You may want to think of 3 to 5 related questions that students can follow to facilitate reciprocal conversation about a particular topic. Questions should be written at students’ reading level to facilitate independent participation in this activity.
  2. Use the fine-tipped marker to write one question on each stick.
  3. Place the sticks in a cup. You may want to have colour-coded sticks indicating which relate to the same topic, or have different cups of sticks for different topics of conversation.
  4. Have students take turns selecting sticks from the cup and asking questions of one another.

Encourage them to follow this sequence for each question:

Student 1: Ask the question
Student 2: Respond to the question
Student 1: Make a comment about the response

This strategy can be used in a classroom, with a small group, or during one-to-one social skills instruction.

From Tutor Scripts to Talking Sticks: 100 Ways to Differentiate Instruction in K-12 Inclusive Classrooms 1st Edition