Walk & Talk

Submitting Organization: Lawrence Hall of Science 

Grade Level: 5th Grade

Subject Area:  Science  

Standards Alignment: Next Generation Science Standards

Walk & Talk is a discussion routine that can be used throughout an activity or sequence of activities to support the type of learning called for by the NGSS (and Common Core CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.5.1) by providing students the opportunity to talk about science ideas, and creating a culture of discourse within a group of students. Because it’s a discussion routine, Walk & Talk may be connected to any PE, SEP or CCC.

Description of the Activity: Many teachers have found this simple routine to be transformative for field experiences with students, because it kicks off discourse so well. It’s easy to lead, and easy to participate in, because it’s primarily one-on-one discussion. While walking from one spot to the next, students discuss prompts and questions in rotating pairs. It helps establish a learning community and a “culture of talk” for your group, in which ideas and observations are discussed and valued by all members.

Discussion Questions: Because it’s a discussion routine, Walk & Talk can be used with any broad question that stimulates discussion. The following are example questions included in the write-up: Find as many ways you can that you and your partner are connected. Music? Activities? Interests? People you know?

  • Who lives here? Look around. What organisms do you see? What organisms do you think live here that you’re not seeing?
  • Discuss as many ways as you can think of that organisms in this ecosystem might be connected with each other.
  • Look at that (stump/tree). Discuss as many ways as you can think of that other organisms might use that stump/tree to survive.
  • What do you think organisms would need in order to survive in this ecosystem?
  • What organisms do you think we might find when we explore the creek/pond?
  • How do you think the ground here might be different if there were no decomposers?

For more advanced learners:

  • How do you think air cycles and changes in ecosystems like this one?
  • In one year an 8 lb. rabbit may eat and drink ~ 400 lbs. of plants and water. About 140 lbs. comes out as poop and pee. But what happens to the other 260 lbs.? Hmmm…

During the introduction of an adaptations hike:

  • Describe an adaptation of an organism.
  • What are some structures and behaviors humans have that help us survive?
  • What are different ways animals protect themselves?
  • What are different ways plants protect themselves?
  • What colors do you think might help animals in this area survive?
  • What are different ways animals have of getting around?
  • What do deer need to survive?
  • What does that tree need to survive?
  • If this habitat were to become much dryer, what behaviors or body structures might help some organisms survive better than others?
  • What are some questions you have about adaptations?
  • What are different ways plants have of reproducing?

During a hike (more challenging):

  • Some banana slugs are bright yellow. Some are greenish-yellow with black spots. Do you think banana slug coloration is for camouflage or for warning?
  • Describe, or ask a student to describe, a strange structure or behavior of an organism. How do you think that adaptation may have evolved over many generations?
  • The oils from poison oak make some (not all) people itch. Deer eat it, and it doesn’t make them itch. Do you think this oil is an adaptation to protect itself, or do you think it’s not an adaptation, and the itching is just a coincidence?
  • The Rough-Skinned Newt and the California Newt are slow and easy to catch, but they are so poisonous to eat that one could kill 20 people. Yet common Garter Snakes can eat these newts and survive. Why and how might newts have become so poisonous?

At the end of a hike:

  • What were some interesting things about anything we experienced today? Talk about things you’ve enjoyed.
  • Talk about things you’ve learned.
  • What helped you to learn today?
  • How might you describe what you did on this hike to someone else?
  • What were some ideas that made you think in different ways?
  • What are some questions you have about organisms or anything else we saw?
  • Think quietly to yourself about things you did today that make you feel proud, as well as things you could do better.
  • What are some skills, like asking good questions, that you got better at today?
  • Did you notice anyone else doing something today that impressed you?
  • What are some examples of how people treated each other well today?
  • Describe some things you learned today that are not facts. Like different ways to look at or think about things…
  • Pretend you’re talking to a younger brother or sister. Describe to them how to make observations in nature.
  • Where are places near your home where you could explore nature in this way?
  • Replay some of the funniest moments of the day.

Resources Needed: 


Link to further resources:

Walk & Talk: http://beetlesproject.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Walk-Talk.pdf  

Other outdoor science resources: beetlesproject.org