1st Edition

Academic Conversations Classroom Talk that Fosters Critical Thinking and Content Understandings

By Jeff Zwiers, Marie Crawford Copyright 2011

    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 Paraphrasing Synthesizing This book shows teachers how to weave the cultivation of academic conversation skills and conversations into current teaching approaches. More specifically, it describes how to use conversations to build the following: 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.

    Introduction; Chapter 1: Reasons to Converse in School; Chapter 2: Getting Started with Academic Conversations; Chapter 3: Lesson Activities for Developing Core Conversation Skills; Chapter 4: Designing Effective Conversation Tasks; Chapter 5: Training Students for Advanced Conversations; Chapter 6: Developing Academic Grammar and Vocabulary Through Conversation; Chapter 7: Conversations in Language Arts; Chapter 8: Conversations in History; Chapter 9: Conversations in Science; Chapter 10: Academic Conversation Assessment; Chapter 11: Reminders


    Jeff Zwiers, Ed.D., is a senior researcher at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. He has taught in diverse elementary and secondary schools and has worked as an instructional coach in urban school settings. His current research and professional development work consist of collaborating with teachers to learn what works best in real classrooms to help students learn through rich interactions and conversations.

    "This book will dazzle you with its passion and practicality. There are common sense and uncommonly creative ideas for any lesson you're planning for tomorrow's third grade reading group or high school history class." - Yardsticks Blog
      "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