Discourse in the Classroom
One of the big goals in science learning is to help kids make sense of scientific activity and ideas. Helping kids make sense is done, in large part, by getting students to talk. There are two reasons for this. First, talking is the primary mode of sense-making in human beings. Second, hearing kids’ talk, gives you access to their thinking and allows you to adapt instruction to their current understandings. What kids think is often vastly different from what you believe they are thinking.
For the beginning teacher, there are principles of classroom discourse that can be studied, practiced, and refined.
The accomplished teacher always engages students in three special discourses.
- Eliciting hypotheses and ideas to adapt instruction
- Making sense of material activity
- Pressing kids for evidence-based explanations
Before exploring these specialized conversations, you will want to understand the basics of classroom discourse. For that, select the “Discourse Primer” in the left hand menu. This will download a pdf printing.
After you have read the Discourse Primer, watch the video below to see examples of discourse moves and strategies in the science classroom.
To locate tools that will help you engage in one of the three specialized discourses, choose one of the three from the “Discourse tools” menu on the left.