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Constructive Classroom Conversations

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1 Constructive Classroom Conversations
Mastering Language for the Common Core State Standards Reflections Stanford University October 2013 Instructors: Kenji Hakuta, Sara Rutherford-Quach, Jeff Zwiers

2 How does the CCSS relate to student conversations?
The CCSS help us look at learning from a language-based stance- language and thinking are intertwined. We have the opportunity to teach students to interact productively and academically in all content areas. Must see depth in conversations, not just “right answers” Students need to be able to summarize the ideas of others, critique, and argue. Focus on critical thinking skills Student must acquire effective oral communication while working with others from various backgrounds.

3 What is a “constructive” conversation?
Sparked from a meaningful prompt that elicits a meaningful response (prompt is essential) Incorporates academic vocabulary Students expressing their opinions, but then explaining their thinking using evidence (“because…”) Students are thinking through ideas while talking, not just answering Turn-taking Grappling/struggling that leads to empowerment

4 In other words, BUILD UP the idea
Turns must BUILD ON previous turns to Turns must focus on lesson objectives

5 EXAMPLE (1) Student A: Why did the author write this?
(2) Student B: To tell us about the Boston Massacre. But I saw that only seven people were killed. That isn’t a massacre. (3) Student A: What do you mean? (4) Student B: Well, a massacre means lots of people die. (5) Student A: Maybe the people who wrote it wanted to make it sound really bad. (6) Student B: Yeah, I think they wanted to get people all mad, to fight. Maybe to start the Revolution. (7) Student A: Why? (8) Student B: Not all people wanted to fight to be separate. They were ok with England over them. But some wanted to separate. (9) Student A: Yeah, so calling it a massacre made the British look evil. I would’ve wanted to fight back too. (10) Student B: So that’s bias, right? It’s lying a little, I think. (11) Student A: Yeah, I wonder how many bias there are in history? Objective: Students will identify and support notions of bias in primary source documents Conversation Prompt: Why did the author write this? Use pen to show + and deltas, model with staff Use CAT tool Then show video examples

6 What skills must we teach & model for students?
Students must be able to… Create ideas (and own them) One idea could be…, What do you think about…? Clarify ideas (elaborate, paraphrase, question) What do you mean by… , Why is that important?... Fortify ideas (support ideas with evidence) For example…, Where does it say that?... Negotiate ideas (propose opposing ideas, compromise) What is your opinion?..., On the other hand…. Show Constructive Conversation Poster TPR

7 Oral and written conversations can be a tool for formative assessment
Think about progression of learning What will I hear at the start of the unit? What should I hear at the end of the unit? Where are they currently and where do they need to be? What is the next step to get them there? Evidence of caring and interest in conversations: Heads nod Sincere questions Genuine turn-taking Authentic listening

8 Modeling & Scaffolding for Success!
Ideas for modeling Whole class discussion (with reflective side bars) Teacher is Partner A, Student is Partner B Fishbowl (start with teacher and student modeling for class) Written model using student scripts Ideas for scaffolding Structure time Structure turns Structure partners Structure visuals, writing Sentence frames (provide just enough, then reduce) Resource posters

9 Final thoughts We must create classrooms environments that are safe, joyful, and welcome mistakes. We must use more focused modeling. Choosing a skill of interaction and being crystal clear on what it it, what it looks like and how to use it. Teachers are like coaches, watching and listening closely and then guiding students to improve based on what they see and hear. ALL students must be effective at oral and written communication. Transcripts of our student’s conversations can be the most powerful way to reflect on student talk and create goals for improvement. Language is part of meaning making in every subject area and can no longer be thought of as a separate system.

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