Exploring Dialogue on OOEL, Part 2: Notice, Connect, Extend, and Snip

In my last post about the Dialogue Toolkit, I reviewed the purpose of our toolkit and described two core moves – Appreciate and Probe – with examples from student work.  To reiterate, the aim of the Dialogue Toolkit (co-developed with Chris Sloan) is to promote thoughtful, mindful exchanges between young people participating in Out of Eden Learn.  In this post, I share an update about changes to our toolkit and discuss four other core dialogue moves that we promote on Out of Eden Learn.

Updates to the toolkit 

As our team recently took stock of our curriculum, we decided to remove the Reflect Back move (represented by the mirror) – which was intended to encourage reflection on how one is interpreting another person’s post.  While we still believe in the importance of this move, we wondered whether it was being misinterpreted in ways that don’t necessarily promote mutual understanding.  We will likely revisit and incorporate Reflect Back into future specialized learning journeys, with some additional scaffolding. In the interim, we saw the need for a new move, Notice, which is described below. Our updated Dialogue Toolkit is as follows:

Interact Moves_imageIn this post, I focus on four core dialogue moves: Notice, Connect, Extend, and Snip.

Notice image

Notice: Marked by the eye icon, the Notice move involves sharing what you observe, what stands out to you or catches your eye. Put differently, the Notice move underscores the importance of looking and listening attentively, indicating what you see, apart from what you think it means or how you feel about it. While the Notice move is a new addition to the toolkit, we’ve certainly seen this move being used spontaneously among students in Out of Eden Learn.

Two students from Teresópolis, Brazil noticed details in a photograph of a family heirloom. The exchange began with Carol’s post about what she learned from her father about the heirloom, a chandelier.

chandelier Brazil

I talked to my Dad about the chandelier in our dining room. It is over 150 years old. Even though it has passed few generations, each generation has lived a long time. So, it is old. He said it belonged to his grandfather.

I noticed on the opaque glass there are clear-glass designs.

I don’t know if the chandelier is Brazilian, or if it comes from some place else. If it did, how did they get it here?

A comment from MarianaL, also from Teresópolis, Brazil, also revealed close attention to details:

I see a big, formal chandelier with blue and white pieces of pretty crystal and four or five lights. It looks old.    I have the same question as Carol “How did they get it here?”

Hewvillage, a student from Massachusetts, United States also learned about a treasured object from someone in her family.

I interviewed my grandmother. She is 69 years old, and she has had this object for 36 years.

necklace US

“My husband and kids gave me this necklace 36 years ago on Christmas. My favorite part about the necklace was the tag that came with it. It says “‘ THIS HEART SAYS WE LOVE YOU’ .” In August, my grandparents will have been married for 48 years. She says that the necklace came in a tiny red box with a big gold bow on the top, and she wears this necklace almost everyday.

In her comment, Lexlycheerleader from California, United States called attention to details she noticed about the necklace:

what I liked about your grand mother’s object was that on the necklace you can see the scratches and you can tell it’s really old. I am wondering if your grandmother wears this necklace or does she just cherish it as a special gift.

The Notice move is a valuable first step when engaging with the stories and photographs shared in Out of Eden Learn. Paying attention to details is an important move in its own right. It is also a generative gateway to other core dialogue moves, such as Appreciate, Probe, and Connect.

Connect image

Connect: Represented by the symbol of a chain link, Connect is a dialogue move that is often made spontaneously, as we often seek similarities between others’ interests and ideas and our own. As Project Zero researcher Veronica Boix-Mansilla noted on our blog, “regardless of distance, we share important experiences with other human beings…[which] bind us together and offer a powerful common ground for conversation.” In Out of Eden Learn, we often see the Connect move used when students are sharing something about their own lives.

For example, in his introductory post, lionman from Erbil, Iraq shared,

Hello I am from Iraq, a student from Mar Qardakh School. I am 15, and in next year I will be 16. I love my school and I like to play football and I love swimming. In our school we have a student council and I am a member of the student council. I like my work on the student council because we are solving the problem of our school. This school is different than other schools in Iraq because the first language is English. I want you to know that Iraq is the best country in the world even if there is some violence in Iraq I love my country. I choose this avatar because I am a Christian and my religion is important to me.

cpc0730, a student from Oregon, United States, commented,

i feel the same about my school, my school is stereotyped all the time just because it is smaller and different, yet is still the same. Religion is important to me also. We are not so different :).

Another example of the Connect move in action can be found in this exchange. In her post on “Documenting the Everyday,” cr1017 from New Jersey in the United States shared,

One thing that is regular for me is listening to music. The one time I can be alone with my thoughts is when I have my headphones on, they block out the rest of the world and I don’t have to think about anything else. Without music my life would be mundane, I would do the same thing every day… Also, no matter what mood I’m in there is music to match it, anger, sadness, happiness, or excitement, there is a music equivalent. No matter what is going on I can just put on my headphones and drown out the rest of the world. I know that many people can’t afford headphones or even a phone or some other device with music on it. This makes me appreciate it even more, knowing that it is a privelege [sic] to have this element in my life.

m_armengol from Barcelona, Spain connected both with cr1017’s love of music and her comment about owning headphones being a privilege:

wow i also love listening to music and i agree with all the thing you say! I love blocking myself with the headphones and entering to my world were nobody can enter apart from me. 🙂 And I think is great that you appreciate you’re headphones and you knowing that not every one can afford it.

Exchanges such as these suggest an authentic desire on the part of youth to forge connections with youth living in other parts of the world. However, ideally, connection-making doesn’t push aside our differences but creates a foundation for then exploring our differences and broadening our thinking. The Extend move is relevant here.

Extend image

Extend: Marked by a symbol depicting arrows pointing in different directions, Extend invites you to describe how another person’s story, photos, or perspective pushes your thoughts in new directions or provides a new point of view you hadn’t considered previously.

We see an example in this exchange between a student in China and the United States. In his Neighborhood Walk post, Turtleneckllama from Beijing, China shared these photos along with the following description.

I took these photos to show what I see everyday here in China. China has been around for a very, very long time so they like to keep traditional buildings and artifacts. The picture on the left was taken at a local Hutong (traditional chinese village) thats near my apartment. The picture on the right is pretty much what I see everyday. Its really cloudy and very busy.

beijing neighbhd walkIn his comment, Kilington from Nevada, United States said,

That’s really cool, i always had a different impression of china because i’m from america, it seems really foggy there. What is the hutong used for nowadays?

Kilington notes how the photos and description give him a new perspective on China, and follows up with a Probe.

The Extend move invites reflection about our initial assumptions and makes visible the ways in which our thinking, and understandings of ourselves and others, can stretch and grow.

Snip image

Snip: Represented by the scissors icon, Snip involves cutting and pasting a phrase, sentence, or longer chunk of text from someone’s post and then responding to it. Your response likely will involve one of the dialogues moves – perhaps you’ve snipped a sentence that contains an idea you Appreciate or Connect with, or a perspective that Extends your thinking, or perhaps makes you want to Probe for more details.

For example, in describing her neighborhood and daily routine, LuuSanta from Barcelona, Spain, posted,

A normal day I usually leave the House and I head toward the square to walk, often I go with the family to Bar Tomas, this bar is well known for their “Patatas braves”. Later I usually go to the church of the Santa Isabel school because there is a shop called Nala, is a candy shop.

In a school days I usually leave the House at eight in the morning up walking to the station, there lame subway and came to school to eight and a quarter. Wednesday after school get the direction to the church of the Santa Isabel because I do swimming in that school.

In response, el_limon from Nevada United States said,

“I head toward the square to walk, often I go with the family to Bar Tomas,” that sounds like fun, it seems like a very nice way to bond and spend time with the family. What do you guys usually do?

el_limon uses the Snip move to comment on LuuSanta’s family outings and to follow up with a Probe.

Like Notice, Snip is an active listening move. It reveals that you are paying close attention to what someone is sharing and invites you to share a meaningful response.

Altogether, the commenting moves we encourage via the Dialogue Toolkit connect tightly with our interest in promoting slow, mindful observations of the world and exchanges with others.

We are excited to see Notice and the other core dialogue moves in action in the new learning journeys launching this fall. We invite your comments and reflections on these moves and others you notice your students making in Out of Eden Learn.


  1. As a teacher, I found this Dialogue Toolkit to be invaluable in the way it promotes “thoughtful, mindful exchanges between young people.” I will be printing it out this year for all my students to keep in their desks, so that they can refer to it and practice these moves in classroom discussions outside of OOEL. When students use these tools frequently, they become habits when engaging with others. Many parents of students last year and this year have mentioned their fear of the superficial connections their children are making in their online conversations. For this reason, I believe parents would appreciate seeing how teachers are supporting their children with this Dialogue Toolkit.

  2. Thanks Hollis! I really appreciate how you emphasize the dialogue toolkit in your classroom! I love the idea of making parents aware of this mindful commenting work you and your students are doing.

    Your recent blog post about Finding Deeper Purpose via Out of Eden Learn highlighted the very powerful learning that is happening in your classroom. Thanks for sharing your insights and examples of student work!

  3. vanemosqueira · · Reply

    I had been exposing my students to Out of Eden the last year by using Paul Salopek dispatches in Spanish. Recently, I had the opportunity to start the first bilingual journey and become more familiar with the Dialogue Toolkit. I found it an excellent way to activate my students thinking and their dispositions to exchange perspectives, share their ideas and to make connections and to extend their knowledge. Using these fashionable “social media style icons” help them to interact with other students around the globe in their own digital literacy.
    Setting expectations, is other factor that I really like about the Dialogue toolkit, I think is always important to set the expectations for learning and thinking with our students. Using each icon/move students are motivated to think focused on a set of questions that clearly provided a framework for group learning in a collaborative thinking environment.
    My students at first glance loved the appreciate move since they made a natural connection with the social media; however when I asked to review the move and the purpose to use it, they shift from “like” to express what they valued of a comment in an explicit manner. “What Makes You Appreciate (Say) That?” helped me to ask them to make their thinking visible on the Out of Eden platform.
    I am learning with them to do my own posts and to mindfully use the core moves. I really like what Holly is doing with their students and I found a great idea to reproduce. The moves are becoming the arc for thinking routines.

  4. Thanks for sharing this comment, Vanenka! It’s terrific to hear that the dialogue moves are supporting your students’ thinking and learning in OOEL. Keep me apprised as they continue their journeys. – C

  5. […] of itself. As my colleague Carrie James’ recent blog posts about our dialogue toolkit show (click here and here), there is a great deal we could be doing to support students’ interactions – and we […]

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