Teaching approaches: Dialogue
The term dialogue is intended to imply a deeper level of analysis or explanation than that which concerns itself only with the surface meaning of talk as isolated expressions made by individuals. When we talk about dialogue, we are talking about the joint enterprise of talk, as a cumultative (building up over time) activity which is aimed at some purpose or other. In education, the purpose we are most often interested in is learning, in a rather broad sense.
- Are often not reflected in classroom talk
- Are not simply question and response (IRF) exchanges, but are dialogic in nature
- Are mutually respectful, and involve exploratory talk which seeks to build a shared understanding between talk partners (what Edwards and Mercer (1987) termed 'Common Knowledge')
Dialogue is a recuring theme on this wiki, and in particular is covered in context in the sections described above.
You should consider throughout the relationship between dialogue, and assessment. You might find some of the items in the table below to be useful prompts
Assessment for learning
Developing strategies that promote classroom dialogue
Use the table below - 'Features of effective dialogue and associated strategies' and our assessment and dialogue resources to provide prompts to help you think about the characteristics of effective dialogue that
- feature strongly in your teaching and the strategies used to achieve them
- are absent or might be improved
|Teacher Strategies||Everyone is engaged with the dialogue||Teacher talk does not over-dominate the dialogue||Pattern of dialogue is 'basketball' rather pingpong||Dialogue is reciprocal, that is, children respond to and build on what others have said||Children's contributions are well- developed sentences or phrases||Children are willing to take risks by sharing partial understanding||Children are willing to challenge each other's ideas in a constructive way||Children demonstrate higher levels of thinking||Children reprocess their thinking as a result of dialogue|
|Higher-order thinking questions|
|Questions linked to resources or tasks|
|Peer discussion following a question|
|Wait time after a teacher question|
|Wait time after a child's response|
|Varying length of wait time|
|Pausing to survey|
|Eavesdropping on group dialogue|
|Cue in children using gestures and|
|Model prompts and body language to encourage continuation|
|Acknowledge where children demonstrate effective dialogue|
|Group Work Strategies|
|Astronomy||Recreating the Big Bang|
An introduction to the creation of the Universe.This presentation offers a tour of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and explains why it is worth spending money on one experiment. It then delves into particle physics, looking at sub-atomic particles to offer analogies for what these particles are. The session focuses on whole class(ta) dialogue(ta) and higher order(ta) thinking skills as well as exploring scientific language(ta). This 4th session and the 5th are together the most theoretically complex and they present challenges to young peoples world views. As such they are led as much by their questions(ta) as by the presentation.
|Blogs||Creating and Using OER to Promote Best Practice|
One school's approach to sharing and promoting best practice using a blogThis lesson idea encourages collaboration(ta) between teachers in order to develop and share practice(i) across a school. Blogs provide excellent opportunities for children and adults to share ideas and work together. They encourage and enable dialogue(ta) between a writer - or group of writers - and an audience, allowing for quick and easy feedback. They enable questions(ta) to be asked and answered quickly. This example shows a blog being used to encourage discussion(ta) to enable curriculum planning(topic) and curriculum development(topic).
|Force||Force in the early years|
Thinking about the language of forceThis lesson idea highlights the scientific language(ta) around the topic of force, and through group work(ta) and whole class(ta) dialogue(ta) engages pupils in inquiry(ta) and the scientific method(ta) surrounding force.
|Force||Building bridges from a piece of A4 paper|
A bridge too far...This activity supports a number of learning types:
|Force||What floats and what sinks|
Is getting in the bath a way to lose weight?This activity supports a number of learning types:
|Force||What makes a good paper airplane?|
|Force||Which material makes a good parachute?|
A simple investigation into parachutes and air resistanceThis activity supports a number of learning types:
How would you respond? Using maps to model disaster support and recover exercises.This is a free workshop offered by the British Cartographic Society (BCS). Students are assigned roles for group work(ta) tasks to represent various disaster recovery agencies. Learning and teaching focuses around small group work, co-inquiry(ta), exploring ideas alongside negotiation, enquiry-based learning as well as a final whole class(ta) dialogue(ta). The overall aim of the workshop is for each group to produce a map suitable to meet the needs of the various disaster recovery agencies.
BCS organise and supervise the event on the day. They run the workshops throughout the year at a variety of locations. Schools can host their own event or attend an organised one elsewhere. The only proviso is that BCS have access to a large hall with Internet available.
If you would like to host or attend a Restless Earth workshop please contact the British Cartographic Society via the following link: http://www.cartography.org.uk/default.asp?contentID=982
|Sampling||Sampling techniques to assess population size|
|Science||Primary Science Investigation|
What is involved in 'doing a science investigation'? And what is there to assess?This resource describes the process of doing an investigation for inquiry(ta)-based learning. Teachers could share practice(i) and lesson planning(ta) ideas using the list of pupil skills (e.g. observing). It also lists learning goals for investigation skills (e.g. observing, predicting, problem solving) and ideas for exploring different types of practical work(ta) in science.
It could be used for discussion(ta) or brainstorming on how to apply these skills to different content areas. The resource emphasises engaging pupils in the scientific method(ta) - using higher order(ta) thinking skills, group work(ta) and dialogue(ta) to facilitate knowledge building(ta)/reasoning(ta).
|Using images||Organising images for a narrative|
Write an essay without wordsThe lesson encourages students to think about how to portray their knowledge through narrative(ta) - which may engage some students who would usually be less interested. The lesson encourages students to think about how to capture valuable information and ensure that key elements are highlighted while not 'overloading' the viewer with data. The lesson can be tailored to any age group - for younger pupils the task could be to take before and after photos and label them. More advanced pupils might explore time-lapse photography. Pupils should be encouraged to think about how this relates to the scientific method(ta) The task is interactive and could be conducted as a group work(ta) activity or as an element of an inquiry-based learning project. It could also lend itself to whole class(ta) dialogue(ta) and the use of ICT(i) including 'clicker' response systems for assessment(ta) and questioning(ta).