Talking Tokens

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Holly Gardner

Holly Gardner is TT Editor, as well as a Freelance Publisher. She has been working with @TeacherToolkit for over 6 years - since she published his first book in her role as Senior Commissioning Editor at Bloomsbury Publishing. Since then, she left her day job,...
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How can you control who does the talking in your class?

Sometimes there are children who need a bit more encouragement to talk in class and there are those students who will always dominate class discussions. Using ‘talking-tokens’ in your classroom can help remedy this problem.

Talking Tokens

  • Create a batch of talking tokens and hand them out to students at the start of the lesson.
  • Then, every time they put up their hand to answer a question they have to hand in their token.
  • If a contribution is from a student who doesn’t contribute very often, reward them for using their token, or give them more than one and challenge them to use them all up by the end of the lesson.
  • If it’s a student who always has their hand up and perhaps needs a bit of encouragement to think their ideas through, only give them one or two so they have to think carefully about when to use them.

Why is it a good strategy?

  • It encourages every member of the class to take part in group discussion
  • It’s really easy to differentiate
  • It not only encourages student oracy, but the token helps students ‘monetise’ their contributions. Or more specifically, think carefully about what they have to say before answering the question.


The tokens can be linked to the lesson plan and also tied in with promoting numeracy. Various tokens may have a ‘timing’ quota on the surface. For example, this token allows me to ‘speak the answer’ within 30-seconds. The more tokens are ‘cashed in’ with the correct responses, the greater the rewards provided by the teacher/school.


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