Academic Conversations: Classroom Talk that Fosters Critical Thinking and Content Understandings (Paperback)
Conversing with others has given insights to different perspectives, helped build ideas, and solve problems. Academic conversations push students to think and learn in lasting ways. Academic conversations are back-and-forth dialogues in which students focus on a topic and explore it by building, challenging, and negotiating relevant ideas.
In Academic Conversations: Classroom Talk that Fosters Critical Thinking and Content Understandings authors Jeff Zwiers and Marie Crawford address the challenges teachers face when trying to bring thoughtful, respectful, and focused conversations into the classroom. They identify five core communications skills needed to help students hold productive academic conversation across content areas:
- Elaborating and Clarifying
- Supporting Ideas with Evidence
- Building On and/or Challenging Ideas
- Academic vocabulary and grammar
- Critical thinking skills such as persuasion, interpretation, consideration of multiple perspectives, evaluation, and application
- Literacy skills such as questioning, predicting, connecting to prior knowledge, and summarizing
- An academic classroom environment brimming with respect for others' ideas, equity of voice, engagement, and mutual support
The ideas in this book stem from many hours of classroom practice, research, and video analysis across grade levels and content areas. Readers will find numerous practical activities for working on each conversation skill, crafting conversation-worthy tasks, and using conversations to teach and assess. Academic Conversations offers an in-depth approach to helping students develop into the future parents, teachers, and leaders who will collaborate to build a better world.
Jeff Zwiers teaches in the Stanford Teaching Education Program and works for Stanford's Center to Support Excellence in Teaching.
He received his Ed.D. from the University of San Francisco and has taught English, Spanish, science, and history in high school, middle school, and elementary school.
Jeff says that he became a teacher to "positively influence the social linguistic, ethical, and cognitive development of students." His areas of specialty are academic language and literacy.
Jeff is also a consultant on the Guatemala Education Reform in the Classroom project to develop effective systems of bilingual education and teacher training across the country. He has published articles and books on literacy, cognition, and academic language.
Marie Crawford is an assistant principal at Central Middle School in the San Carlos School District. She has been a mentor teacher for urban teachers, a classroom teacher in urban schools, and a museum educator.
"This resource is the single tool you need to help your students create the essential link between thinking, speaking, and writing." - Professionally Speaking
"From critical thinking and literacy skills to building a respectful professional classroom environment, this is packed with basic ideas perfect for any high school to college-level educator." – Midwest Book Review