How to Build a Culture of Science Talk in the Classroom

It's the beginning of the school year where we set the norms and expectations for our classrooms. When doing this, how can we also build a culture of science talk in the classroom?

Try on this tool: Talk Moves

The Talk Moves checklist is one page guide designed to provide any teacher with some basic supports so that they feel more confident responding to student ideas and questions. The simple responses are designed to increase the importance of student ideas in discussion and classroom learning, specific to science.

Talk Moves represent a simple checklist of teacher responses to student talk that promote students to clarify and expand their thinking, listen carefully to one another, deepen their reasoning, and work with the reasoning of others. Based on research on teaching and learning, the Talk Moves are focused on making student thinking visible in the classroom.

If you are new to the idea of Talk Moves, here is a great introductory video from the Teaching Channel which provides a teachers' perspective on howTalk Moves help her to reach her goals for student talk.

With the rollout of Common Core many districts have started using similar talk moves in math, but often these teachers already implementing it in math do not, independently, transfer the approach to other subject areas such as science.

For professional development, a great resource is the Talk Science Primer by Sarah Michaels and Cathy O'Conner. This primer is easy to read and does a great job of actually translating research into practice giving many reasons to focus on student talk in the classroom.  It is a resource written for teachers and a selection from this short primer can be used for grounding small or large group discussion, a reading preparation for looking at classroom video during professional development, and to ground discussion of our transition to NGSS in the shifts we need to make in classroom culture so that student ideas are at the center.

Once educators get started with this tool, they also soon realize that the Talk Moves are simply a jumping off point and that they can create similar phrases with the same goals in mind to probe and press for students thinking in new ways. 

To see Talk Moves in action head to the Inquiry Project web site and take advantage of their library of videos and articles developed with teachers for teachers and professional developers.