Academically Productive Talk

We know that promoting classroom discussion and talk that have certain features can result in particular kinds of academic benefits, such as improved word knowledge. Rich teacher-student discussion also supports the development of students’ reasoning and supports their abilities to express their reasoning. Using discussion or ‘academically productive talk’ (APT) during your Word Generation session provides you with opportunities to model processes for deriving information from a text as well as creating reasonable hypotheses about the meaning of unknown words. Using discussion in the classroom also provides a mechanism for connecting new words to prior knowledge and experience.

 

Can classroom talk help learning?

What is challenging about this way of teaching?

Professor Catherine O'Connor

Boston University

  • Academically productive talk refers to the ways that teachers skillfully encourage their students to think deeply, articulate their reasoning, and listen with purpose.
  • Many believe talk is very useful for students as they learn. There is evidence of this world-wide.
  • Those who are committed to teaching for understanding are also committed to engaging students in this type of classroom discourse.
  • Using talk in this manner is a complex professional skill for a classroom teacher. It is also underexamined in the profession.

Professor Catherine O'Connor

Boston University

Teachers are simultaneously responsible for the following:

  1. Making what is said intelligible with special attention paid to new and complex
  2. Managing coherence so that instruction maintains a logical flow among students with many perspectives
  3. Maintaining student engagement and motivation, going beyond simply listening to inspire real interest and commitment to ideas
  4. Ensuring equitable participation so that all students are heard, not just the naturally vocal

How is Academic Language different from everyday language?

Professor Paola Uccelli

Harvard Graduate School of Education

What are Talk Moves?

How do teachers begin using Talk Moves?

First Steps

Next Steps

Professor Catherine O'Connor

Boston University

First Steps

  • The revoicing move can be introduced into teaching without fanfare.
  • Students can learn revoicing techniques with explicit coaching.
  • Revoicing is highly effective yet simple.
  • Students usually want to explain themselves when given the opportunity and they improve with practice.
  • Some students will appear uncomfortable at first.
  • Teacher can consider announcing to class that talk will be used in new ways and describe what students might expect.

Professor Catherine O'Connor

Boston University

Next Steps

  • After initial trial period with talk moves, teachers shift to a stage of implementation during which the students receive explicit information about the moves and their purposes.
  • Students may balk at the expectation that they develop the ability to listen and to even repeat classmates' contributions.
  • The "agree/disagree" move can be problematic with students who perceive it as unfriendly to disagree with classmates -- teachers can find creative remedies to this issue.
  • Students develop an understanding over time that disagreement with an idea is different from personal criticism.

What is an academic argument?

How can the term “argument” cause

confusion among students?

How can a seemingly simply dilemma lead to
rich discussion and the formulation of arguments?

THE WORDGEN  TEAMDevelopment of Word Generation was led by Catherine Snow (Harvard University) through a SERP collaboration with the Boston Public Schools and other districts in Massachusetts and Maryland. Support for Word Generation was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Leon Lowenstein Foundation and the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education through grant numbers R305A090555 and R305F100026. The information provided does not represent views of the funders.

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