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IPP1: Exploring development themes through the use of talk in the classroom (dialogic teaching)
[relevant to English, CSPE, Modern Languages]

Dialogic teaching

Dialogic teaching harnesses the power of talk to stimulate and extend students’ thinking, and advance their learning and understanding (Alexander 2010). Through dialogue, teachers can elicit students’ everyday, ‘common sense’ perspectives and engage with their developing ideas.

Dialogic teaching is not just any talk. It is as distinct from the question-answer and listen-tell routines of traditional teaching as it is from the casual conversation of informal discussion.

Dialogic teaching requires a particular interactive approach in the classroom which draws on questions, answers, and feedback.

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Dialogic teaching requires:

  • Interactions which encourage students to think, and to think in different ways
  • Questions which invite much more than simple recall
  • Answers which are justified, followed up and built upon rather than merely received
  • Feedback which informs and leads thinking forward as well as encourages
  • Contributions which are extended rather than fragmented
  • Exchanges which chain together into coherent and deepening lines of enquiry
  • Discussion and argumentation which probe and challenge rather than unquestioningly accept
  • Professional engagement with subject matter which liberates classroom discourse from the safe and conventional
  • Classroom organisation, climate and relationships which make all this possible

Teaching which is dialogic rather than transmissive, and which exploits the power of talk to shape young people's thinking, meets five principles:

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Source: Alexander, R. (2010) Dialogic Teaching Essentials, University of Cambridge.
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