The Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards emphasize improving the quality of student-to-student discourse as a major feature of instruction. The new standards specifically describe the importance of students understanding the reasoning of others and engaging in meaningful conversations using evidence for claims. Yet this type of student-to-student interaction tends to be rare in classrooms. Common classroom teaching activities such as whole class discussions, jigsaws, and think-pair-shares can have the appearance of constructive interactions, but they often do not provide adequate opportunities for all students to engage in back-and-forth dialog. This course looks closely at student-to-student conversations and addresses ways to improve students' abilities to engage in the types of interactions described in the new standards. We will also examine the use of formative assessment as an instructional practice to gauge where your students are in their learning by gathering evidence of their learning, assessing the evidence, and planning the next steps in instruction.
This course consists of four main sessions with three weeks between each session in order to provide extra time for application and reflection. The learning in this course relies heavily on participant contributions and comments, especially in the team collaboration setting. Participants will be expected to complete both team and individual assignments for all sessions. The sessions and assignments are designed for participants who teach or have access to classrooms in which they can gather samples of students' conversation during lessons.
Please note that this is a slightly modified version of previous courses offered since the Fall of 2013. This course is targeted towards both elementary and secondary school teachers.
We hope you will join us on this exciting journey.
In order to participate in the course, you will need to have access to a classroom in which you or the teacher you are observing are able to collect short samples of paired student talk on two different occasions.
1. Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment?
Participants who complete the course requirements will receive a FREE Statement of Accomplishment issued through NovoEd. Please check with your employer as to whether this statement of accomplishment may be used for professional development credit. There is no fee for this course and to receive a statement of accomplishment.
2. How much of a time commitment will this course require?
The course has 4 main sessions, each three weeks apart. Studying course materials (lecture videos and readings) takes about two hours per session, while assignments will take around eight hours per session.
3. Any additional textbooks or software required?
Session 1: Constructive Conversations I
In this session we dive into what high-quality talk between students can sound like in lessons that effectively teach the new standards. Specifically, we focus on the features of “constructive interactions," during which students create, clarify, support, and negotiate ideas as they talk about concepts and build understandings in a discipline. We also introduce the formative assessment process.
Session 2: Teaching the Constructive Conversation Skills
This session focuses on instruction to support the types of rich interaction introduced in Session 1. We analyze video clips that show teaching that fosters interaction skills described in the new standards. We look at activities that help students build interactions skills for staying focused on objectives, building and negotiating ideas, and clarifying ideas.
Session 3: Constructive Conversations II
In this session, we will look more in depth at how to foster student interactions that build the learning of lesson objectives, challenge thinking, and push students to use more complex language of the Common Core standards. We also explore how to use the formative assessment process to interpret students' conversation skills.
Session 4: Collaboration, Communication, and Community
This will be a summative session, in which we will pull together everything we've covered in the course to create a product that communicates to other teachers the value of having a discourse focus for implementing the new standards. You will also consider next steps for applying and collaborating in this work during the year.