Science talk isn’t just any old talk. It uses a specialized language and can sound quite different depending on the purpose and context of the communication (e.g., exploring an idea or concept, analyzing and interpreting data, or explaining a hypothesis). Regardless of the context, what matters most is that the talk is productive. Productive scientific talk furthers science understanding, and it requires active participation of the speakers and the listeners. Common roles of speakers and listeners are shown on this Productive Science Discourse chart.
- Provide a safe space in which this kind of productive talk can happen.
- Develop group norms that provide a clear purpose and structured routine for speaking and listening. Model, reinforce, and revisit the norms.
- Provide students with many opportunities to practice engaging in productive talk with peers.
- Ask questions that promote critical thinking and encourage students to formulate their own questions.
- Let conversations happen! Recognize when to step aside and let students assume responsibility for the success of the discussion.
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