Productive Scientific Class Discussions

Our goal as student scientists is to follow a scientific investigation with meaningful, academically productive class discussion. This means that students put forth competing ideas explained in detail and supported with evidence. Students listen to each other carefully and respectfully.

Norms for Productive Discourse- An Atmosphere of Civility & Safety

  1. Talk that is focused on reasoning with accountability to science and classmates.
    1. Preparation: We come prepared for discussion with our science notebooks filled with notes, examples, readings, etc.
    2. Responsible learners: We are responsible for our own learning. This means we speak, request clarification, show agreement or confusion, verify, and ask others to repeat.
    3. Pushing ourselves: We push ourselves and each other to think beyond the obvious, disagree with ideas, and draw out comments from classmates, and we are open to changing our minds.
    4. Focus: Our comments and stories will stay on topic, and we have the right to explain how our contribution connects with science.
  2. Talk that is respectful.
    1. Civil participation: No put-downs- ever.
    2. Impulse control: Don’t interrupt or talk over your classmates when they have the floor.
    3. Fair critique: We, students and teacher, can critique ideas of others, but personal attacks are out of bounds.
  3. Talk that is equitable.
    1. Hearing from all: Everyone deserves to be heard.
    2. Air time: Don’t monopolize the conversation.
    3. Priority to newcomers: We’ll give priority to those who have not had chances to talk yet.
    4. Time to think: The teacher will give “think time” before asking for ideas.

Routines That Encourage Listening & Purposeful Talk

  1. Write-Pair-Share
  2. Sentence Frames
  3. Talking About Talk After Sharing Work
  4. Providing Equitable Access to Information & Ideas

Scaffolds for Talk

  1. The Structured Talk Scaffold
  2. Talk Roles for Small Group Work
  3. Scaffolds for Whole-Class Discussion

Examples of Talk Moves to Support a Productive Class Discussion

I agree with what ________ said, because…

I want to add on to what __________ said. I think that…

I disagree with ___________’s idea, because…

I have a connection to what __________ said…

Can you explain your thinking?

**Many of the above Productive Scientific Class Discussion Ideas are from the book Ambitious Science Teaching by Mark Windschitl, Jessica Thompson, & Melissa Braaten

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