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What Folks Are Saying About... Hands Down, Speak Out

Posted by admin on Aug 19, 2020 4:04:00 PM

“Without knowing it, I was waiting for this book.” –Peter Johnston

What Folks Are Saying About Hands Down Speak Out

Kassia Omohundro Wedekind and Christy Newell Thompson created Hands Down, Speak Out, to give teachers an engaging, practical, and well-researched tool that will guide them to create a classroom community where everyone works to build ideas together, disagree productively, and collaborate to problem-solve. But those are just a few of the benefits. Peter Johnston stated it best when he wrote, “I sometimes wonder how the world will survive if children do not experience the sort of teaching presented in this book.” We wonder that too.

Here are a few more of the thoughtful, heartfelt testimonials from other educators who saw the immense potential this book has to transform your instruction.


“There is so much to love about this book that I hardly know where to begin.”

“From the second I learned about Hands-Down Conversations at a math conference, I couldn’t wait to try them out. And now we have this beautiful, inspiring book that allows us to dive in and imagine the possibilities of engaging our students meaningfully and critically in listening to one another and building theories to understand and improve our world.

“There is so much to love about this book that I hardly know where to begin. For elementary teachers, to consider how to plan for, navigate, and reflect on discussions across the school day and across disciplinary contexts is a gift because it is so often overlooked in professional materials. Kassia and Christy have forged a powerful collaboration in bringing to life what students are capable of accomplishing through Hands-Down Conversations.

“This book challenged me to think about facilitating discussions in a whole new way. Shifting authority to our students to discuss in-process ideas is a goal many of us hold and involves incredibly complex work, not the least of which is selecting discussion-worthy tasks, listening ever so carefully to who participates and how and to what ends, and lifting out important social topics that students need to reflect on in order to grow.

Hands Down, Speak Out will guide you to take the leap and be there with you as you encounter your first questions about how to navigate the nuances and complexities of listening and supporting students to ‘speak into the silence.’ The rich examples for how to use micro-lessons, Conversation Clubs, Turn and Talks, and Hands-Down Conversations bring to life ways of engaging children in the work of critical mathematics and literacy. No doubt this book will help you consider with your colleagues the goals you have for advancing equity and justice in our educational systems and the liberatory possibilities of engaging critically with mathematics and literacy. So I urge you to gather a few colleagues, read this book together, and waste no time in growing and deepening your practice.”

—Elham Kazemi, coauthor of Intentional Talk: How to Structure and Lead Productive Mathematical Discussions and coeditor of Choral Counting & Counting Collections: Transforming the PreK–5 Math Classroom


“This work has the potential to transform learning communities and lift all individuals within the community.”

“Imagine this: joyous classrooms brimming with curious children earnestly exploring ideas through the interconnected work of talking and listening. What do these classrooms sound like? What do they look like? And, how do we all create these environments for our children? Chapter by chapter, Hands Down, Speak Out offers a clear progression of lessons for teaching into the often-messy dynamic of talk in ways that support teachers and students alike. This work has the potential to transform learning communities and lift all individuals within the community. Today is the perfect day to get started!”

—Maria Nichols, author of Comprehension Through Conversation and Building Bigger Ideas


“This is the kind of book that I believe will inform teaching and learning for years to come.”

Hands Down, Speak Out: Listening and Talking Across Literacy and Math by Kassia Omohundro Wedekind and Christy Hermann Thompson is both a timely book and a timeless book. It is timely given the complex and challenging sociopolitical climate in which we find ourselves and timeless given its underlying message of the importance of creating spaces where children are able to speak out and take on the challenges of today’s world, in order to participate in ways that contribute to making the world a better, more equitable place for all. This is the kind of book that I believe will inform teaching and learning for years to come.

“The book is written in a way that readily transports its readers into classrooms where teachers and students intentionally, and powerfully, engage in real life issues, drawn organically from the interests and passions of children. Through beautifully told stories of life in classrooms, Kassia and Christy guide their reader to an understanding of different discourses at play including a discourse that fully supports students as readers, writers, and mathematicians as well as discourses that create spaces for students to participate powerfully in the world in and out of school. Following each story are suggestions and/or strategies for engaging in such discursive practices that can be used with diverse texts including picture books, advertisements, websites and social networking texts, for taking up sociopolitical issues such as gender, race, and consumerism.

“As I savor each page of the book, a theme that stands out is, at its core, this book is also about how to be together as a community, and the discourses that inform that being together, as well as the building of a classroom where all students are valued as competent thinkers and doers with experiences that matter, and that can inform the thinking of the group as a whole, in the classroom and beyond.”

–Vivian Maria Vasquez, author of with Negotiating Critical Literacies Young Children and Getting Beyond “I Like the Book”: Creating Space for Critical Literacy in K–6 Classrooms



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