University of Exeter
Tools for Schools
Turn taking

Turn taking

Key Points

This is a small group activity that is designed to teach key skills that can be used in everyday situations. It’s about taking turns, as the name suggests!

How is this tweaked for flex?

When a student is impulsive, it can be incredibly hard for them to hold in what they want to say in class. This can be very hard to change but also very hard for you to manage. This strategy adds in some ideas and an activity to help the student understand when it is their turn

  • Put aside some time for the activity and collect a range of physical objects that could be used to signal whose turn it is to speak
  • Using the classroom turn taking template, think about what you already do in the classroom to support students to take turns and think about what does and what does not work regarding the student you are using the toolkit with
  • Follow the activity plan with the class – understanding why we take turns, positive attributes of people who wait their turn, and what goes right or wrong when people don’t take their turn
  • Agree with the class some guidelines for turn taking - what will you say when it’s important to take turns or let others have their say, how will students know whose turn it is
  • Identify if there is a preferred way to signal turns in the classroom - for example could you toss a stress ball or small beanbag to each student when it is their turn to speak, that then gets passed on to the next person? Ideas can be added on the classroom turn taking template
  • Have students make posters about positive and negative consequences of letting others speak (you can use the poster template scenarios 1 and 2 for ideas)
  • When students struggle to remember the turn-taking agreement, remind them of the agreement and the outcome of the turn taking activity (where it goes wrong if you don’t take turns and right if you do!). Play the game in the activity plan again if needed
  • Positively reinforce good turn-taking through explicit verbal praise and consider using a token system
  • Where possible, have an adult talk through with the student examples of times they were able to take turns, and when it didn’t work so well for them, and reflect on this
  • Use the reflection template to note what is working well and what isn’t
  • Think about things from the point of view of the student you are using the toolkit with and note if you could do anything more to allow their turns to happen more or less frequently
  • After one week, then each week following, review how successful the strategy has been and what is getting in the way of it working better. Use the troubleshooter to find ideas for how to adapt this to better suit the student