Presentation on theme: "Academically Productive Talk: Supporting Student Learning with Discussion and Accountable Talk August 15, 2011 SERP Summer Institute Cathy O'Connor Boston."— Presentation transcript:
Academically Productive Talk: Supporting Student Learning with Discussion and Accountable Talk August 15, 2011 SERP Summer Institute Cathy O'Connor Boston University
1. What is academically productive talk? 2. What tools support academically productive talk in discussion? 3. Some examples 4. What does it take to get started? In the next 90 minutes:
But first, why focus on talk and discussion? Why do educators and researchers in general think that classroom talk has the power to improve both students' learning and ability to reason, and teachers' ability to teach?
This helps teachers adjust their teaching. Some people call this formative assessment. And students may themselves realize what they don't understand and what they do understand. Talk can reveal understanding and misunderstanding.
Talk is a rich source of information, and plays a part in almost every memory we form. By hearing about (and talking about) concepts, procedures, and uses, our memories have more to work with. Talk supports robust learning by boosting memory in several ways.
When talk is used intensively in classes, students may get a richer sense of what words and phrases mean, and when to use them. Their control of complex grammar also improves, in speaking and in reading. Talk supports language development.
Learning to reason well takes time. It takes practice, and it takes working with other people: explaining your own reasoning and talking about other people’s reasoning. In the classroom, teachers can give students that practice by using talk in strategic ways. Talk supports deeper reasoning.
When teachers use classroom talk a great deal, it gives students a chance to learn about respect and kindness. They learn that it takes time to understand somebody else’s reasoning, and that they have to work to make their own reasoning clear. Over time, this improves students’ social skills and ability to be patient and cooperative with others (and with themselves!) Talk supports development of social skills
We’ve discussed the many obstacles. Nevertheless… *
We don’t have time! What if no one talks? I don't want to put them on the spot... some of my students are too shy to talk in front of everyone. Some of my students are English language learners. Some have IEPs. I can't call on them… What if Spencer just hogs the floor, as usual?
Getting past these obstacles… 1. Basic talk tools: talk moves and practices 2. Classroom norms that support respectful and equitable discussion 3. Ways to get started (with your coaches and in the Teachers’ Guide)
Talk by teachers and students about academically important content: Talk that supports development of student reasoning Talk that supports improvement in students' ability to communicate their thinking
"Accountable Talk SM : Classroom Conversation that Works" 3 CD ROM set, Institute for Learning Michaels, O'Connor, Hall & Resnick (2003)
“I’ve been teaching this way all my life and I don’t call it anything.” “Academically productive talk” or “Accountable Talk” is based on observations of teachers like these.
So today when I say “Accountable Talk” or “academically productive talk” I mean to include all varieties of teaching that use classroom discourse strategically, to move students to a higher level of reasoning and communication about their reasoning.
Starting around 1990, we conducted studies of teachers who appeared to be highly effective at using talk in their classrooms. We looked for recurrent ‘talk moves’ that engaged students and pushed them to develop their reasoning. In our work since then, we have learned a lot about how to support teachers in learning how to use academic talk in their classrooms.
We saw that these effective teachers were able to accomplish four steps that lead to academically productive talk…
Steps towards productive talk If a student is going to participate in the discussion, he or she has to be able to share his or her thinking out loud, in a way that is at least partially understandable to others. If only one or two students can do this, you don’t have a discussion, you have a monologue or a dialogue. 1. Helping individual students to externalize their thinking– to share their reasoning out loud.
Steps towards productive talk If a student is sitting waiting to speak, and is not listening to others, he or she will not be able to contribute to a real discussion. Your ultimate goal involves sharing of ideas, agreements and disagreements, arguments and counter- arguments, not simply a series of students giving their own, unconnected opinions. 2. Helping students to orient to others and listen to what others say.
Steps towards productive talk After you have gotten students to express their thoughts and listen to others’ ideas, the discussion can still fail if it does not contain attempts at solid reasoning. Some teachers find that their classroom discussions are superficial—students are not working at deeper reasoning. The teacher must scaffold this consistently. 3. Helping students to work on deepening their own reasoning.
Steps towards productive talk The final step involves students actually taking up the ideas and reasoning of other students, responding to them and working with them. This is when real discussion can take off, discussion that will support robust learning. 4. Helping students to respond to the reasoning of others.
Later, we’ll see a video of what this looks like. 1. Helping individual students to externalize their thinking– to share their reasoning out loud. 3. Helping students to work on deepening their own reasoning. 2. Helping students to orient to others and listen to what others say. 4. Helping students to respond to the reasoning of others.
So how do teachers get this to happen? 1. Helping individual students to externalize their thinking– to share their reasoning out loud. 3. Helping students to work on deepening their own reasoning. 2. Helping students to orient to others and listen to what others say. 4. Helping students to respond to the reasoning of others.
These things won’t happen consistently just by virtue of a good question, or an exciting topic. 1. Helping individual students to externalize their thinking– to share their reasoning out loud. 3. Helping students to work on deepening their own reasoning. 2. Helping students to orient to others and listen to what others say. 4. Helping students to respond to the reasoning of others.
3. What tools help you accomplish these four steps to productive discussion?
First, the teachers we studied had set up classroom norms for using talk respectfully, and for ensuring equitable participation.
Second, they used a variety of tools that helped them achieve each of the four steps.
For the next 45 minutes or so, we’ll work through these tools…
Tools to help take this step… 1. Helping individual students to externalize their thinking– to share their reasoning out loud. We need time to think! so…tools that give us time to think Turn and talk / partner talk Wait time Stop and jot
1. Helping individual students to externalize their thinking– to share their reasoning out loud. You: pose a question: “What does Michelle Obama think about tater tots in school lunches?” Them: 25 blank faces Wait time Stop and jot Turn and talk / partner talk
1. Helping individual students to externalize their thinking– to share their reasoning out loud. After you use these tools that give students time to think, you can call on students who rarely talk. How does this help you?
Tools to help take this step… 1. Helping individual students to externalize their thinking– to share their reasoning out loud. Next: tools that help you draw out what students are thinking so it can be understood! Teacher: So how do you think the boy felt in this part of the story? Davide, how do you think he felt? Davide: Um, okay?
A simple talk move that help students externalize and explain their thinking… SAY MORE… Can you say more about that? Can you give an example? I’m not quite sure I’m getting the whole thing. Can you tell us more?
Can you say more? The teacher draws out the student’s thinking, encourages him to explain his strategy, and gets a chance to add in some math vocabulary T: So how did you solve that addition problem? S: Add. T: OK, can you say more? Can you tell us more about how you did that? S: Umm, I knew it was eight, and then I added on nine, ten, eleven. T: So you used counting on! Is that right? S: Yes.
Can you give an example? The teacher draws out the student’s thinking, encourages her to explain, and involves other students in the activity. T: What did your partner do while you put the puzzle together? S: Wrote stuff. T: OK, can you say more? Can you give us an example? S: She wrote down what I did,... like step by step. T: OK, Graziella, can you share some of your notes that your partner just mentioned?
And another tool to help take this step: 1. Helping students to externalize their thinking– to share their reasoning out loud.
Revoicing: what is it? The teacher notes that the student is saying or thinking something, repeats part or all of a student's utterance, and asks the student to verify whether her interpretation is correct. Some people call this verify and clarify. T: So is the sum going to be positive or negative? S: Well, the thingy is over that way, so it’s positive. T: OK, so are you saying that our arrow is going to the right, past the zero, so it’ll be positive? Is that what you’re saying? S: Yeah.
So what? What does revoicing, or verify & clarify, do for teacher and learners?
Verify and clarify: An example Verify and clarify: An example "What??"
GOAL: OBSTACLE: Often a student says something that is completely unclear. Very often. 1. Helping individual students to externalize their thinking– to share their reasoning out loud. Many teachers feel uncomfortable asking the student to clarify, because they don't want to put the student on the spot.
And they don't want to look like an idiot if they still can't understand the student after the student tries to clarify. Revoicing gives a way to deal with this. So they just move on… and lose the chance for formative assessment.
This teacher has been reading a story to her 3rd grade about orphans going to be placed in the Midwest. An agent from the orphanage is picking them up at the train: Miss Randolph.
One girl makes a comment that is not at all clear. “Miss Randolph is like the… like, mother? taking care of the kids at the station?”
Teacher: OK, so let me see if I understand what you're saying.
Teacher: What you said was that Miss Randolph is…their mother??
Girl: No. The… kind of like a mother, but she's the one that discovered them and brang them to the orphanage.
What is happening here? The teacher is confused at first, but then gets a clearer sense of what the student understands and doesn’t understand. This is formative assessment at its best.
The student realizes that the teacher wants to understand her contribution. The teacher doesn’t just assume that she is wrong. Over time, this can have a profound effect. What is happening here?
The student can accept or reject the teacher's interpretation, which positions the student as a legitimate participant in the intellectual enterprise. What is happening here?
So once the students are externalizing their reasoning, sharing their thinking out loud, how do you get other students to orient to that reasoning, to listen to it?
Tools for the next step: The “Who can rephrase or repeat?” move When a student makes a useful contribution, stop and mark it as interesting or important. Then ask whether someone can rephrase it in their own words, or repeat it. 2. Helping students to orient to others and listen to what others say.
When the teacher uses “who can repeat?” or “who can put that in their own words?” it serves to get everyone on the same page, to focus attention and make sure everyone gets another chance to hear. These all serve the goal: 2. Helping students to orient to others and listen to what others say.
Teacher: Put your hand up if you understand what she just said.
Teacher: OK, keep your hand up if you think you can repeat what she said.
Tools for the next step: Note: it is not a good idea to start out using this move as a classroom management device, although that may be tempting. It is not about catching students who are not paying attention. It is best to always start with a student who wants to try to put another student’s contribution in their own words. 2. Helping students to orient to others and listen to what others say.
Trouble-shooting Q: What if a student I call on can’t repeat or rephrase what another student has said? Or what if they refuse to? A:You can make it clear that it’s perfectly fine to not be able to repeat or rephrase, but if a student who is called on didn’t hear or didn’t understand or can’t repeat, they need to ask the original student to say it again.
Trouble-shooting Q: What if a student repeats or rephrases what another student has said, but they get it wrong? Should I correct that or ignore it or what? A:When you’re talking about complicated ideas, it’s easy to misunderstand what someone has intended. You shouldn’t be afraid to check back with the original speaker and ask “Is that what you meant? Did we understand you correctly?” Over time, this will help students become more resilient communicators.
One more tool: “Share what your partner said” (Using ‘partner talk’ to support listening) When you use partner talk, you can support your goal of getting students to orient towards and listen to one another. Often, students who are not good at listening to others will focus only on their own answer in a partner talk situation. You can start to change this by purposefully asking students to report out on what their partner had to say. 2. Helping students to orient to others and listen to what others say.
OK, now you have steps 1 and 2 working. What about 3? 1. Helping individual students to externalize their thinking– to share their reasoning out loud. 3. Helping students to work on deepening their own reasoning. 2. Helping students to orient to others and listen to what others say.
The “Why do you think that?” move When a student makes a contribution, they may not reveal much about their reasoning. They may focus only on a claim, or an observation. The move “why do you think that?” is a prompt to such a student to reveal more about their reasoning. 3. Helping students to work on deepening their own reasoning.
Why do you think that? What made you think about it that way? What is the evidence for your claim/perspective/idea? Is there evidence in the passage? Do you have data to support that? What are the important data points? Can you connect that to something you’ve seen your own life? Can you read us something from the text that backs up what you’re saying? 3. Helping students to work on deepening their own reasoning.
“Press for reasoning” or “Why do you think that?” may take time to put in place! Sometimes students are not used to explaining their reasoning. It takes extra effort by the teacher to get them used to this practice.
Ms. Lally, an extremely skilled user of Accountable Talk, is setting up the norms with her new class. They have not used Accountable Talk before. An example from the second day of sixth grade:
A student, Mitchell, is being asked to explain his answer to a "missing numbers" problem:
Ms.Lally is relentless. But by October or November, Mitchell cannot stop himself from explaining how he solved a problem, or why he thinks a certain answer is correct.
The “Challenge” move: this is not about telling the student he or she is wrong, or trying to shut down their argument. Rather, it’s an attempt to get them to think more deeply about their claim. What about this example? Would that fit what you’re saying? Is that always true? Are there any exceptions you’ve noticed? Hypothetical scenarios: what if we had a case where...? 3. Helping students to work on deepening their own reasoning.
OK, now you have steps 1, 2 & 3 working. What about 4? 1. Helping individual students to externalize their thinking– to share their reasoning out loud. 3. Helping students to work on deepening their own reasoning. 2. Helping students to orient to others and listen to what others say. 4. Helping students to engage with and respond to the reasoning of others.
What do you think about what she said? Who can add on to what he said? Who agrees or disagrees, and why? 4. Helping students to engage with and respond to the reasoning of others.
An important reminder: If you just ask for agreement or disagreement, without asking why the student agrees or disagrees, students can 'phone it in' without really paying attention to what the first student said. "Oh yeah, I agree. Uh huh."
Another important reminder: Disagreement can cause social disruption and bad feelings, so it's very important to set up your own routines for keeping it civil and focused on the content!
Once you have these steps in place, you can have consistently productive talk…
One more tool to help with all of these steps… Using your ‘poker face’ and your ‘poker voice’…
Your students have been primed all through their schooling to look at the teacher’s face and listen to the teacher’s voice for clues to what the right answer is. When you scaffold a discussion, it will run aground if students simply look to you for the “right answer.” Why? Because then they’re not looking towards the discussable issue and their own positions, they’re just looking to you.
So if you can keep yourself from saying “Good!” and “Right!” and “Well, does anybody have a DIFFERENT answer?” you’ll be giving your students a great gift.
A small and impromptu discussion. Look closely at what is happening over this three minutes or so…
Ms. Davies has given her third graders a series of numbers, and in a whole group discussion has asked them to say whether the numbers are even or odd. They established the day before that if you can divide a number by two with no remainder, then it is an even number. Paulo has tackled the number 24. His contribution is less than completely clear.
0. Ms. D:So Paulo, is twenty-four even or odd? What do you think? 1. Paulo:Well, if we could use three, then it could go into that, but three is odd. So then if it was... but... three is even. I mean odd. So if it's odd, then it's not even. How to respond?
2. Ms. D:OK, let me see if I understand. So you're saying that twenty-four is an odd number? 3. Paulo:Yeah. Because three goes into it, because twenty-four divided by three is eight. Ah hah! a misconception! Now what?
4. Ms. D: Can anyone repeat what Paulo just said in his or her own words? Cyndy? 5. Cyndy: Um, I think I can. I think he said that twenty-four is odd, because it can be divided by three with no remainder. Are you sure she should repeat that?
6. Ms. D: Is that right, Paulo? Is that what you said? 7. Paulo: Yes. 8. Ms. D:Miranda, do you agree or disagree with what Paulo said?
9. Miranda:Well, I sort of... like, I disagree? 10. Ms. D:Can you tell us why you disagree with what he said? What's your reasoning?
11. Miranda: Because I thought that we said yesterday that you could divide even numbers by two. And I think you can divide twenty-four by two. And it's twelve. So like, isn't that even? 12. Ms. D: So we have two different ideas here about the number twenty-four. Paulo, you're saying that twenty-four is odd because you can divide it by three with no remainder? 13. Paulo: Uh huh.
14. Ms. D: And Miranda, you're saying that it's even because you can divide it by two? Is that correct? 15. Miranda: Yes. 16. Ms. D: OK, so take a minute to talk to the person next to you. Do you agree or disagree with Miranda’s or Paulo's ideas? Talk to your partner.
[Students talk in pairs for a minute. Ms. Davies circulates and hears Eduardo talking to his partner. He is an English learner and he rarely says anything.] 17. Ms. D:Eduardo. Tell us what you talked about with your partner. [15 seconds go by]
18. Eduardo:Yes, I agree with Miranda’s idea, because you tell us something is even is to divide by two. And we can divide twenty-four by three, and we can divide twenty- four by four. And they don't get no remainers. So I think we should stick with two only.
What is happening? The concepts of "even" and "odd" are being sharpened and clarified, through bringing together different students' understandings. Together, these understandings provide a space to engage with the idea more deeply. In “partner talk” students get a chance to try out their thinking before they share it with others. This makes it possible to make their thinking public.
What could happen next? Ms. Davies could reintroduce the definition from the previous day and follow up to make sure students understand it better now. Because each student has taken a position on the matter, they will be more focused on her explanation of what they did yesterday.
Notice: A productive discussion may involve a question with a “right answer” or it may involve several equally plausible “right answers.” Or it may involve issues of opinion only, as long as there is some relation to evidence and reasoning. In this case, there was a right answer. A discussion does not have to be lengthy to increase engagement and clarify ideas! In real time, this impromptu clarifying discussion would take about two and a half minutes.
OK, that's nice. But doesn't discussion like that just emphasize students' misunderstandings?
The harsh realities of the classroom: You can define and describe and "tell" the correct reasoning, but there are certain to be students who a) didn't hear b) didn't understand and feel lost now c) think they understand but don't d) have partial but weak understanding.
Classroom discussion can bring all these students onto the same page, coordinating their attention and their motivation towards the same set of topics, concepts, expressions, and so on. And it helps you understand their thinking… But we have to be aware of the things we will find challenging. Some teachers find it challenging to actually discuss student thinking that they know is incorrect.
Another example, large and planned. Look closely at what is happening…
In Worcester, at the end of the school year, a teacher brought together a group of 5 th grade students from a Sheltered English class and students from a regular class for four days of Accountable Talk. This video is from Day 2. Ms. Bullock has set up some of the norms, and is carrying out a lesson about air: does air have weight?
She sets up a pan balance with two volleyballs. They weigh the same. She takes one off the balance, adds ten pumps of air, and asks the students to predict what will happen when she puts the volleyball back on the scale. Will it weigh more? Will it weigh less? Will it weigh the same?
Things to notice How does she use the activity (predicting which outcome will happen) to help structure the discussion? How does the teacher make sure everyone is on the same page? What do you learn about the students?
Follow-up Notice that these students don’t really refer to one another’s positions, but you can see they are tracking their own vote versus those of others. By the 4 th day of this study, these students were making references to one another, and occasionally asking one another questions.
Some quotes from local teachers: I find it challenging to direct the group dynamic and create an environment where kids can challenge each other without coming across as judgmental.
I think the success of accountable talk in a given classroom depends not only on the specific "accountable talk" moves but also on the success of social curriculum. In a classroom with a culture of trust, responsibility and genuine interest in learning, accountable talk can be a more natural outcome. Some quotes from local teachers:
Establishing the conditions for respectful discourse Talk is respectful when each person's ideas are taken seriously; no one is ridiculed or insulted, and no one is ignored or brow-beaten. Why is it necessary to establish conditions for respectful discourse before you can use talk to promote word learning? Because most people will not discuss their questions or their ideas if they fear being laughed at, dissed, or ignored. If they don’t participate, it won’t work.
Establishing the conditions for respectful discourse How can I establish those conditions? Explicit discussion about respect and disrespect Clear rules to follow Clear sanctions for disrespectful behavior Consistent enforcement with zero tolerance during classroom talk sessions
Establishing conditions for equitable participation Participation is fair and equitable when everyone has a fair chance to ask questions, make statements, and express their ideas. Academically productive talk is not just for the most academically able students!
Establishing conditions for equitable participation Why is it necessary to establish conditions for equitable participation before you can use talk to promote word learning? Because if students know participation is not required of them, they’ll opt out…"This is not for me." If they don’t participate, it won’t work.
Establishing conditions for equitable participation How can I establish those conditions? Clear rules about turn-taking Teacher attention to patterns of turn allocation Encouragement of students who tend to avoid talk Turn-taking practices that support different kinds of participation.
SET-UP WEEK We are working on materials for each grade in Word Generation so that you can have a week before starting the actual units to Create discussion norms Practice the launch Discuss the question and positions Have a discussion or debate Practice the end-of-week writing