A few years ago, I learned about a strategy called Quote, Quote, Mingle from our middle school instructional coach at a professional development session. This strategy helps students gain knowledge by having conversations with their peers based on what they’ve read. The more people you talk to, the more information you get to help you develop a fuller picture of the topic. (I still remember the article we read that day about a panda’s sixth digit—a rudimentary, thumblike bone extension.)
This strategy may sound familiar. It has a lot in common with the jigsaw method, but while the jigsaw method asks groups of students to become “experts” on different aspects of a topic and then share their findings with their classmates, Quote, Quote, Mingle requires students to hypothesize about a text while posing questions and drawing inferences about it based on reading a small part of it.
As world language teachers, we try to integrate as many texts as we can to expand our learners’ reading capacity. However, teaching informational text with Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary can be challenging, which also makes learning engagement inevitably decrease. So, under these circumstances, I invited one of our Chinese teachers and her classes to try this strategy, and it worked well in an elementary setting.
The learning goal was to understand the main idea of a third-grade informational text in Chinese, which introduced the history and impact of potatoes on our everyday lives. Before implementing the strategy, we also did some preparation work to make the whole process clearer for students to understand.
The teacher and I broke down the informational text into bite-size pieces. For instance, we segmented the text about potatoes into six parts and put them on index cards. Each student then received a card with part of the article on it.
During the implementation, we followed these steps:
- The teacher describes the activity to students with the instructions, “We’re going to read an article, and you need to find the main idea. You will move around in the classroom with an index card and exchange information with three classmates, which we call a mingle. And I will set a four-minute timer to remind you when a mingle session is finished. Then, you need to talk to another group of three people and share the ‘quotes’ from the last session.”
- The teacher then sets a timer to remind students to get ready for the next mingle session and instructs them to talk with other classmates. We both walk around the classroom during this time to check in with any students who need help or more clarification.
- Next, the teacher instructs the students to go back to their initial groups and share the information they gathered from these mingle sessions. The teacher invites the students to identify the main idea based on the group discussion, and they jot it down on chart paper.
- Students share their findings with the whole class, and the teachers may comment on the differences or similarities. For the final step, students read the whole text, and the teacher encourages them to find the parts that have been validated or contradicted through discussion.
We stress that the students need to discuss the main idea with every person they talk to. We find that this instruction creates a meaningful opportunity for them to interact with the texts and peers.
3 Takeaways from Using Quote, Quote Mingle
1. This activity engages students in meaningful conversations. It forces students to read the pieces carefully and summarize them before engaging in conversation with their classmates. They need to stay focused to remember their peers’ sharing when exchanging information.
2. Quote, Quote, Mingle encourages active participation and collaboration with body movement. We tend to think teaching informational text is challenging, and the most common approach is for teachers to explain the difficult parts for students via direct instruction. However, this method diminishes students’ active participation and ownership of their own learning. Using a collaborative approach in academic reading helps to ease students’ anxiety when they encounter unfamiliar topics.
3. This strategy promotes language proficiency and fluency. Reading these bite-size pieces and summarizing them is great practice for reading comprehension. Plus, using conversation to exchange information requires students to fine-tune their word choices and presentation in a time-constrained setting. The more they talk to their peers, the more opportunities they will have for language fluency.
Incorporating collaborative strategies for language learning shifts students from being passive receivers when it comes to reading to active learners. It also encourages students to think aloud when communicating with their peers, which also helps them to reflect on their understanding of the text.