Practice Brief 48 -- Topics: Equity Instruction Background

How can teachers guide classroom conversations to support students’ science learning?

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Why It Matters To You
  • Teachers should learn strategies for asking questions, responding to student thinking, and scaffolding student conversations in an effort to broaden equitable opportunities for students to engage in classroom talk.
  • District Staff & PD Providers should work with teachers to support and reflect on classroom conversations.
  • School Leaders should learn the ways talk can be organized to foster science learning opportunities for students and support teachers in orchestrating such conversations.

What Is The Issue?

Teachers need ways to encourage opportunities for all learners to engage routinely in sensemaking talk. Teachers can also use student talk to learn about student ideas and thinking. However, it is often challenging to facilitate productive conversations, especially with students who are not accustomed to talking in their science classes. Teachers can use tools to scaffold student science talk. They can then reflect on what they have learned from students to inform next steps in their instruction.



Reflection Questions

  • How can you focus the questions you ask to support students’ 3D science learning? Are students engaging in and reflecting on science and engineering practices? Are you gauging their understanding of core ideas and crosscutting concepts?
  • How can you collaborate with colleagues to support each other in improving classroom talk?
  • What types of questions are you asking? What are some alternative questions that might expand conversational participation? What types of prompts help facilitate conversation in pairs? In small groups? Whole class?

Things to Consider

Attending to Equity

Recommended Actions You Can Take

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Talk Resource Cards Partner Conversational Supports Pre- and Post-Talk Writing Supports


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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.