Dawes, L. (2009) Talking points: a practical, sociocultural approach for encouraging reasoning through dialogue in the primary classroom. Seminar Presentation presented to: European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) 13th Biennial Conference: Fostering Communities of Learners, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 25-29 August 2009. (Unpublished)
There is increasing recognition that the quality of dialogue between teachers and students, and amongst students, can have a crucial influence on educational achievement. This is in part due to the wider influence of a Vygotskian, sociocultural model of learning and development. However, there is still a relative lack of practical guidance for teachers on how to transform insights about the value of dialogue into successful classroom practice. In this paper, we will use recent research on the teaching of science in primary and secondary schools to describe how teachers can be encouraged to use dialogue in ways that encourage the collective and individual reasoning of their pupils. Using one specially-designed set of activities called 'Talking Points� as our main example, we will provide illustrative data to show how teachers can engage children in such activities and the results this has on children�s collaborative talk and their contributions to whole-class discussion. We will offer evidence to support the view that the students benefit from structured, dialogic activities which offer them resources and opportunities for constructing reasoned arguments � and thus also provide support for a sociocultural model of classroom education. Finally, we will discuss implications for classroom practice and the professional development of teachers.