All Resources

Building An Environment for Discourse

Social Norms and Clear Expectations

  1. Teacher states explicitly that she expects students to listen to one another's ideas and be able to question or comment once a speaker is done. This implies that students are to be thinking about what's being said no matter who is talking.
  2. Students are expected (or taught) to look at the speaker and to refrain from raising their hands while someone else is speaking.
  3. Teacher states explicitly that she expects students who are talking to articulate their thinking clearly so others can understand and assists them to do so.
  4. Teacher interjects to focus in on meaning and clarity when students' explanations are vague or meaning is implied.
  5. Teacher holds students to the standard to speak loud enough for others to hear and does NOT repeat or restate for students when they cannot be heard, but gently nudges them to try again.
  6. Teacher explicitly states she will call on a student whether or not they raise their hands and uses techniques to ensure equity (e.g. cards, popsicle sticks with student name on each stick).
  7. Teacher calls on another student to paraphrase what was stated and then to take a stand in relation to the idea under discussion or to ask about or add to the idea.

Practical Strategies for Improving Student Achievement in Literacy in Grades 3-6


Rich Tasks

What is a Rich Task?

A Rich Task is a task that explicitly requires students to make sense of mathematics and to make connections between concepts, procedures, problem situations, representations and tools.

A Rich Task can be an open-ended problem, with a variety of possible solution paths that range from simple to complex.

A Rich Task can require justification, where students have to provide reasoning and evaluate the reasoning of others.

A Rich Task can include incomplete information, and provide a variety of access points to different students.


Towards Dialogic Talk

Research Findings from 500 Classes in 5 Countries including USA, England, France, India and Russia:

  • Open questions made up 10% of the questioning exchanges
  • 15% of the sample did not ask any open questions
  • Probing by the teacher to encourage sustained and extended dialogue occurred in 11% of classes
  • Uptake questions occurred in only 4%
  • 43% of teachers did not use any such moves
  • Pupils' exchanges were very short-5 seconds on average
  • Pupil answers were limited to 3 words or less 70% of time