← Conversations

Academic Conversations: What, Why, and How

Session 5
Jennifer Orr, Megan Kratz, Taylor Heil — Lynbrook Elementary School

The goal of the session is to develop ideas and strategies around academic conversations. Student-led and student-driven conversations around content can happen beginning in the primary grades and moving all the way up into higher education. To get started we’ll have chart paper for people to begin brainstorming why academic conversations should be happening in classrooms at all ages. This can start whenever folks arrive and continue through the first few minutes of the session. Using those whys we will engage in conversations in small groups to develop a picture of what academic conversations can look like, including the role of the teacher. Groups will share their ideas and we’ll create one set of thoughts for the entire group. The how of academic conversations is the greatest challenge. To kick off that discussion we’ll begin with post-it notes for participants to share challenges or concerns they see around academic conversations. We’ll group the ideas, looking for similarities. Participants can then choose which challenges or concerns they are most interested in exploring and create new groups. The last part of the session will be spent sharing these ideas and adding to or revising them by others.

Conversational Practice

We’ll begin the session with a modified Chalk Talk as people arrive. We won’t require silence but will encourage focus on the opening question. We will build off the Chalk Talk in small group discussions and then as a whole group. A Whip-Around will get us focused for the final Open Space discussions around the challenges and concerns identified.

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