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Tool: Observing with the verbal flow technique

This technique is similar to Selective verbatim, which focuses on the content of verbal communication. Verbal flow, however, identifies the initiators and recipients of the verbal communication. The same categories or focus areas can be used.

  • Create a seating map of the classroom using boxes to represent the teacher and students.
  • When the teacher makes a comment or asks a question to the whole class indicate with an arrow from the teacher box. 
  • When the teacher speaks specifically to a student indicate with a downward arrow in that student’s box. 
  • When the student speaks to the teacher or the whole class indicate with an upward arrow in that student’s box.
  • When a student speaks to another student indicate with an arrow between the two students’ boxes noting the direction.
  • Use notches on the arrows to keep track of the number of comments or questions.

Observation Notes:

QUESTIONS Teacher: Sue K. Lesson: Civil War Date: 1/11/04 Observer: Nia P.

Begin 1:15 Students are at desks. Teacher wanders.

verbal flow diagram

Analysis suggestions

  • Does the teacher question or call on students sitting in particular seats?
  • Does the teacher question or call on particular individuals or a particular gender?
  • Do particular students ask more questions or direct comments to the teacher? To other students?