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Reading Discussion Guides

No Talking by Andrew Clements

About the Book

The fifth-grade girls and the fifth-grade boys at Laketon Elementary don’t get along very well, but the real problem is that they are loud and disorderly. While trying to stay quiet for one day, Dave Packer gets into an argument that sparks a contest: Which team can say the fewest words during two whole days? And it’s the boys against the girls.

Discussion Questions

  • Who are the “Unshushables”? How do the teachers at Laketon Elementary feel about the “Unshushables”? Have you ever been part of a noisy group?
  • Who is Gandhi and how does he get Dave Packer into trouble? Who helps turn Dave’s experiment into a grade-wide contest? What are the terms of the contest? How do the teachers react to this?
  • What do the kids discover as they try to keep quiet at home? How do their parents react to the silence?
  • How does Mr. Burton feel about Mrs. Hiatt’s efforts to stop the fifth-grade contest? What does Mrs. Hiatt do when she finds out that the contest is still going on at lunchtime? How does she confront Dave? How does Dave respond?

Extension Activities

  • Research Gandhi and civil disobedience. Use your findings as the basis for a short report about Gandhi and what larger lessons from his life — beyond silence — are at play in No Talking.
  • Interview a teacher or school administrator about his or her job. Include questions about the value of order and quiet, how it is maintained, and when noise is okay. Have students ever taught them something exciting and new? Based on your interview, write an article about this teacher or administrator for your school or classroom newspaper.
  • Explore nonverbal ways people communicate, such as sign language and writing, or through arts such as pantomime, dance or painting. Divide classmates or friends into small groups to create informative posters about these different ways of communicating.
  • Try one of Mr. Burton’s experiments, such as making up a group story with each student offering just three words; spending a class period WRITING ONLY but communicating with at least four other people; or holding a debate, such as the pros and cons of soda machines in the cafeteria, using three-word arguments.