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time in classrooms (Zwiers, 2008). In contrast, open-ended questions that do not have quick “right” or “wrong” answers promote greater levels of thinking and expression.

Something as simple as having students turn to a partner and answer a question first, before reporting to the whole class, is an effective conversational technique, especially when the teacher circulates to monitor student responses. Speaking to a peer may be less threatening; in addition, this method actively engages every student. Effect SIOP® teach- ers facilitate discussion by following up with open-ended questions and probes that stim- ulate divergent thinking and language development.

Rather than responding to student answers with “Very good!”, teachers who value conversation and discussion encourage elaborated responses with comments like, “Can you tell us more about that?” or “What made you think of that?” or “Did anyone else have that idea?” or “Please explain how you figured that out.”

Zwiers (2008, pp. 62–63) has classified the types of comments you can make to enrich classroom talk. By using comments like those that follow (adapted from Zwiers), you can create a better balance between the amount of student talk and teacher talk. Further, classroom interactions are less likely to result in an IRE or IRF pattern. Try using some of these comments and see what happens to the interaction patterns in your own classroom!

To Prompt More Thinking

  • You are on to something important. Keep going.

  • You are on the right track. Tell us more.

  • There is no right answer, so what would be your best answer?

  • What did you notice about . . .

To Fortify or Justify a Response

  • That’s a good probable answer . . . How did you get to that answer?

  • Why is what you said so important?

  • What is your opinion (impression) of . . . Why?

To See Other Points of View

  • That’s a great start. Keep thinking and I’ll get back to you.

  • If you were in that person’s shoes, what would you have done?

  • Would you have done (or said) it like that? Why or why not?

To Consider Ethical Ramifications

  • Should she have . . .?

  • Some people think that . . . is [wrong, right, and so on]. What do you think? Why?

  • How can we apply this to real life?

To Consider Consequences

  • Should she have . . .?

  • What if he had not done that?

  • Some people think that . . . is [wrong, right, and so on]. What do you think? Why?

  • How can we apply this to real life?

What Is Academic Language?

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