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 presentations, 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 students who might not usually be considered able students. Some of the mechanisms 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 helping students improve their ability to build scientific arguments and reason logically. When one student makes a claim, the teacher can ask for evidence to support 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.



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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 Brice­Heath, S. (1983). Ways with words: Language, life, and work in communities and classrooms. New York: McGraw­Hill; 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. 171­219). New York: University Press of America. 180 Ready, Set, SCIENCE!

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Appendix D Biographical Sketches of Oversight Group and Coauthors Kevin J. Crowley is associate professor of education and cognitive psychology at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center, where he also directs the Center for Learning in Out­of­School Settings. His research interests focus on the development of children’s scientific thinking in informal, for­ mal, and everyday settings, focusing on how they develop knowledge and skill in such contexts as museums and on the Web and how to best coordinate their expe­ riences in science. He has been a visiting fellow at the Department of Psychology and Education at Nagoya University in Japan. He has a Ph.D. in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University (1994). Janet English, currently on leave from teaching, is the director of educational services for KOCE­TV, Orange County, California’s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) station. She has been teaching eighth­grade science and seventh­ and eighth­ grade multimedia communications at Serrano Intermediate School in Orange County’s Saddleback Valley Unified School District for 13 years. She received the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching in 2003. At KOCE­TV, she helped start the Schoolhouse Video Project, which broadcasts student video work on PBS. She has been a contributor to and a staff person for the National Science Education Standards, a consultant with the Cal Tech Precollege Science Initiative, and a committee member of the Defense Investment Initiative, which assists displaced scientists and engineers who are transitioning to teaching in inner­city schools. She was the director of the Institute for Chemical Education’s physics and chemistry camps at the University of Northern Colorado, an instructor for the Apple Teacher Institute and the Apple Colleges of Education, and a teacher trainer for the California Technology Assistance Project. She is an associate member of the National Research Council’s (NRC) Teacher Advisory Committee and serves as vice chair of the California Teacher Advisory Council. 181