Hands Down, Speak Out

Listening and Talking Across Literacy and Math

Now available!

"I sometimes wonder how the world will survive if children do not experience the sort of teaching presented in this book."
—Peter Johnston, author of Choice Words and Opening Minds

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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 classroom stories and examples, Christy and Kassia provide 28 micro-lessons designed to help K–5 students develop and exercise 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 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 conversation across literacy and math

Christy and Kassia believe that the development of dialogue skills is worth the investment of time not only because 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.


eBook Available Through Major Retailers

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About the Author(s)

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 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.



Product Details

Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Media: 248 pp/paper (est.)
Year: 2020
Item No: 1269
ISBN: 978-1-62531-269-3
Publisher: Stenhouse Publishers