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Let's Talk About Dialogic Talking

Robin Alexander states that dialogical talking ‘it is not any old talk.’ It is not the traditional question, answer, listen cycle and neither is it an informal discussion. It is much more than that. It is so much more than that. Dialogical talk is thought to be about scaffolding learning through direct questioning. I think it develops the critical thinking talk through neuro-linguistics and is one way to develop metacognition and self- regulation.


It is important for teachers to recognise and understand which stage pupils are at in their understanding of and expression of dialogical talking. Forget assessment of individual subjects. We need an assessment system without levels, where we can assess where pupils are in their dialogical thinking and talking. If we can provide precise/differentiated scaffolds for pupils to achieve similar outcomes, we can close the disadvantage gap. I have tried Socratic talk, talk partners and debating, through paired, peered and group talking activities to develop dialogical talking in the classroom. In my experience such activities must be carefully chosen and thought-out.


In order to develop metacognitive processes, the activities must enable pupils not only to develop subject knowledge but to also enable pupils to access the language required to articulate their thoughts clearly.


At the same time as this, there must be sufficient challenge in the task to enable the pupil to progress in both cognition and metacognition. This is where accurate assessment of where a pupil is in their cognition and metacognition is necessary. Perhaps we should assess metacognitive and cognitive strategies and how well pupils have learned them and are applying them. So what if a pupil was stronger in reading than in maths?


Simple. A pupil might be struggling to understand basic maths, where reasoning has not developed yet whereas for reading they might have moved onto the metacognitive development, where they are monitoring and evaluating their reading strategies.

That means that they would be working towards in maths because they are still learning the content but the reasoning and mastery is still developing but would have mastered reading.


Here are some activities that I have tried to develop dialogic thinking and talking. The first picture is a series of six sorting cards to develop mathematical language and vocabulary in measures. Pupils have loved debating the order that these cards should be sorted into, using language scaffolds for those who required them, whilst I have been able to challenge their thinking further by asking what if questions.




The second picture is a fact sheet on Antarctica. For homework, I asked my pupils to think about and pack items needed on a trip to Antarctica, based on the fact sheet. What would they pack and why? When they brought the items into school, they conducted a debate, during which I was able to question them deeply by altering the conditions thereby challenging their thinking further.


The second picture is a fact sheet on Antarctica. For homework, I asked my pupils to think about and pack items needed on a trip to Antarctica, based on the fact sheet. What would they pack and why? When they brought the items into school, they conducted a debate, during which I was able to question them deeply by altering the conditions thereby challenging their thinking further.









In conclusion, I think we need to develop an assessment system which evaluates the language used by pupils as a means to understanding where they are with their learning of strategies in cognition and metacognition, not content.



References:


http://www.realproject.org.uk/system/files/socratic_discussion_guide_science.doc


https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/education/activities/2508_warnings.html



#classroom #dialogicteaching #teachingandlearning #criticalthinking #dialogue #primaryschool #education #speakingandlistening


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