By Mary DiGirlamo
Why is it important for students to learn how to have academic conversations? After reading Academic Conversations by Jeff Zwiers and Marie Crawford, I understand that the skills that students acquire early on will help them become lifelong learners. Some of these life skills can be as basic as listening, speaking, and writing, while others are more complicated like recognizing biases. Conversation connects us with others. It builds vocabulary, encourages critical thinking, develops self discovery, and leads to empowerment.
Academic Conversations emphasizes five core skills: 1) Provide prompts to help students learn how to ask questions; 2) Support ideas with examples from the text, other resources, the world, or from one’s own life; 3) Build on or challenge partner’s ideas; 4) Paraphrase what the speaker is saying to keep your thoughts organized; and 5) Synthesize conversation points by putting it all together. Mastering these core skills will give the students the necessary tools for academic and lifelong achievement. As a teacher, implementing these core skills on a regular basis will show the students what it looks like to have effective and meaningful conversations that they can model with one another.
I will apply what I learned in the classroom by teaching students to recognize biases not only in school but life. Examining news stories, books, and commercials will help students realize that sometimes the stories written about history are sometimes biased. This year we will conduct a symposium regarding the Crusades. Students will role play individuals from different religions that experienced what it was like to live during the Crusades. This will teach them the importance of having different perspectives and how a topic in history can be completely different depending on which lense you are looking through. The authors spoke about a class project “Design the perfect society” by giving detailed examples of the government, defense, art, writing, social structure, economics, and the rights of citizens. For the first time my class completed a PBL by creating their perfect society. I was so impressed with the final product my students produced. It helped them make connections with the past, today, and prepare for the future. It helped them to ask questions and challenge one another's ideas. Next year when I introduce this project I will have more guided questions that I ask and they will also provide questions that eventually they will be able to answer after researching the topic. Academic Conversations is a great resource applicable to all subject areas and to everyone within and outside the academic environment.
This is a resource build by the ESSD40 staff for to aid in transforming teaching and learning.
Inspire. Empower. Challenge.
Learning Out loud