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Earlier in this chapter, you read an interaction between a teacher and her students in which the IRE (Initiation/Response/Evaluation) pattern prevailed. In contrast, read the following transcript from a tenth grade literature discussion, and reflect on the differences in the two classroom interaction patterns (Vogt, 1996, pp. 182–183):

SARA: In the book The Count of Monte Cristo, what caused Eugenie to flee? JUAN: She was going to marry Benedetto . . . is that wrong? I’m wondering . . . TRAN: It’s not right . . . she wanted to run away from her parents, I think.

TEACHER: Look at Sokea because she has the answer to this, I think. Sokea seems to think there’s a little bit more to this.

SOKEA: Yeah . . .

ALEX: Wait, I know! Benedetto was convicted as a criminal, so you know the cops were going to arrest him so he was shamed. In other words, Eugenie’s family was shamed ‘cause they were supposed to, uh, marry the count . . . so that’s why she ran away . . .

TEACHER: Are you satisfied with that? SOKEA: Yeah, that’s kinda like what I was thinking . . . .

SARA: Yeah, okay, good, but I’m still wondering why Madame Danglars and Duprey met in secret at the hotel . . .

TEACHER: Interesting thought. They had been meeting in secret for a long time . . .

ALEX: Okay, they’re meeting and she brought Duprey a letter that Monsieur Danglars left her and he told her that he was leaving town . . .

CARLA: Yes, but I also think . . . (the conversation continues . . .)

Now, your students may not sound exactly like these students or speak English as fluently. However, this is a regular tenth grade classroom with diverse students, including English learners. Note how the teacher facilitates this discussion with very few words— just probes and careful listening. Sharing conversational control with students involves some risk-taking on the part of the teacher and practice on the part of students who may prefer to answer questions with monosyllabic words. Simply telling students to “discuss” will likely have poor results. We need to teach students how to engage in meaningful con- versation and discussion and provide the support they need to be successful. Rather than sitting as “quiet cornstalks,” students, including English learners, can learn to express themselves, support their viewpoints, advocate their positions, and defend their beliefs. When this occurs, we establish a classroom environment in which conversational control is shared among teachers and students alike.

What Is the Academic Language of English-Language Arts?

There are myriad terms that are used in academic settings. Some of these are used com- monly across content areas and others are content-specific. The metaphor of bricks and mortar is helpful here as we think of some words representing bricks, such as English- language arts content-specific words such as imagery, symbolism, narrative, and nonfiction.

What Is the Academic Language of English-Language Arts?

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