Practice Brief 35 -- Topics: Instruction ESPAÑOL

How can I foster curiosity and learning in my classroom? Through talk!

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Why It Matters To You
  • Teachers should think carefully about discourse in their classrooms. Do students frequently talk about their thinking, or do they simply share “answers” to teacher questions?
  • District Staff & PD Providers should support teachers in developing more strategies to support student sensemaking talk.
  • School Leaders should consider their walkthrough protocols and measures of teacher growth. To what extent does instruction prioritize student sensemaking through talk? BY

What Is The Issue?

Learning happens through talking. And yet, student talk typically makes up less than 20% of the time spent in science class, and of that small amount of time, very little is focused on student sensemaking. However, specific instructional approaches—or ‘talk activities’—can be used to support students’ three-dimensional science learning. Our Talk Activities Flowchart, this tool highlights those talk formats and explains when, how, and why to use each talk format in support of student investigations.



Reflection Questions

  • How often do students in your class or school get to talk deeply through their ideas?
  • Are students truly listening to and responding to each other in conversation? Or are they simply trying to guess the right answer?
  • Think about your students from non-dominant backgrounds. How do they engage in sensemaking? What activities might better support them?

Things to Consider

Pictured Above: Student Talk Flow Chart

Attending to Equity

Recommended Actions You Can Take

There are easy ways to support student thinking through talk:


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This site is primarily funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Award #1920249 (previously through Awards #1238253 and #1854059). Opinions expressed are not those of any funding agency.

Work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Unported License. Others may adapt with attribution. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Opinions expressed are not those of any funding agency.