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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
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• 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!