National Academies Press: OpenBook

Ready, Set, SCIENCE!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms (2008)

Chapter: Appendix C: Academically Productive Talk

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Academically Productive Talk." National Research Council. 2008. Ready, Set, SCIENCE!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11882.
Page 179
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Academically Productive Talk." National Research Council. 2008. Ready, Set, SCIENCE!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11882.
Page 180

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Appendix C Academically Productive Talk In addition to talk moves, teachers can engage students in a number of recurring talk formats, each of which has a particular norm for participation and turn- taking. Examples include partner talk, whole-group discussion, student presenta- tions, and small-group work. A number of studies have suggested that what has been called “academically productive talk” has many benefits in the classroom. This kind of talk leads to deeper engagement in the content under discussion. It also elicits surprisingly elaborated and subject matter–specific reasoning by stu- dents who might not usually be considered able students. Some of the mecha- nisms presumed to account for its efficacy in supporting student learning are: • Talk about theories, concepts, evidence, models, and procedures may cause misconceptions to surface. This may help the teacher recognize and address what students do and don’t understand and may help students become aware of inconsistent or incorrect beliefs. • Discourse formats, such as extended-group discussion, may play a part in help- ing students improve their ability to build scientific arguments and reason logi- cally. When one student makes a claim, the teacher can ask for evidence to sup- port it. • Allowing students to talk about their thinking, theorizing, and evidence-based interpretations gives them more to observe, more to listen to, and more chances to participate in scientific thinking. • Classroom talk may push learners beyond their incomplete, shallow, or passive knowledge by making them aware of discrepancies between their own thinking and that of others. 179

• The ability to communicate clearly and precisely is a hallmark of mature scien- tific reasoning. Classroom talk provides a context for the socialization of stu- dents into this practice. • Classroom discussion may provide motivation by enabling students to become affiliated with their peers’ claims and positions. For Further Reading Brice-Heath, S. (1983). Ways with words: Language, life, and work in communities and classrooms. New York: McGraw-Hill; Oxford University Press. Cazden, C. (2001). Classroom discourse: The language of teaching and learning. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Lemke, J.L. (1990). Talking science: Language, learning, and values. Norwood, NJ: Ablex. Michaels, S., and Sohmer, R. (2001). Discourses that promote new academic identities. In D. Li (Ed.), Discourses in search of members (pp. 171-219). New York: University Press of America. 180 Ready, Set, SCIENCE!

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What types of instructional experiences help K-8 students learn science with understanding? What do science educators, teachers, teacher leaders, science specialists, professional development staff, curriculum designers, and school administrators need to know to create and support such experiences?

Ready, Set, Science! guides the way with an account of the groundbreaking and comprehensive synthesis of research into teaching and learning science in kindergarten through eighth grade. Based on the recently released National Research Council report Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8, this book summarizes a rich body of findings from the learning sciences and builds detailed cases of science educators at work to make the implications of research clear, accessible, and stimulating for a broad range of science educators.

Ready, Set, Science! is filled with classroom case studies that bring to life the research findings and help readers to replicate success. Most of these stories are based on real classroom experiences that illustrate the complexities that teachers grapple with every day. They show how teachers work to select and design rigorous and engaging instructional tasks, manage classrooms, orchestrate productive discussions with culturally and linguistically diverse groups of students, and help students make their thinking visible using a variety of representational tools.

This book will be an essential resource for science education practitioners and contains information that will be extremely useful to everyone �including parents �directly or indirectly involved in the teaching of science.

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