and ideas or to practice listening to peers and building arguments collectively. In many classrooms, students are given scant opportunities to think aloud, let alone engage in argumentation that is uniquely scientific. In order to engage in effective scientific argumentation, students must embrace norms and habits that focus on data, analysis, and the building of ideas in a collective, cumulative fashion.
Building classroom environments like those of Mr. Figueroa, Ms. Carter, and Ms. Wright can be challenging. The ways in which these teachers structure and elicit student talk and argumentation is an ongoing and often complex process. The methods described in this chapter can serve as entry points for improving the practice of classroom discourse and for adjusting the ways teachers may structure student interactions related to science.
In order to do this, teachers will need opportunities to observe science classrooms like the ones described in this chapter. They’ll need to experience firsthand what it is like to be members of a community governed by scientific norms for talk and argumentation. And they’ll need help reflecting on those experiences and planning appropriate ways to create scientific talk and argumentation structures in their own classrooms. They’ll need access to resources that illustrate these practices and provide additional explanations for how to implement them.
In asking teachers to move away from the well-established patterns of classroom interaction to embrace student talk and argumentation as a central feature of the science classroom, we must recognize that they will require support. Typical patterns of discourse in schools, such as the I-R-E pattern described earlier, are so pervasive in U.S. culture that they can even be observed in young children as they play school. School system administrators, curriculum developers, and science teachers and educators will all need to understand and participate in the challenge of moving to more effective methods of promoting talk and argumentation in the science classroom.