Encouraging Academic Conversations




Frequent purposeful talk about the learning? Structured reading and writing?

  • Self assessment using the rubric.
  • What are the areas that you want to focus on?
  • Share with your table.
  • Find a partner to keep you accountable.
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Step 6: Structured Academic Conversations

Keep in mind

Frequency: Every 10-15 minutes provide opportunities for student discussion.

Grouping: 2-4 students. Make sure students have a buddy before you ask them to share.

Seed question: will keep students focused on content and allows us to check for understanding.

Gradually increase rigor and utilize academic language.

For teens the attention span is 10 minutes. For students 12 years and under the figure becomes even more drastically reduced (Allen 2009).

Purposefully talk circumvents the loss of student attention and the ensuing wave of boredom that follows!



1.Teacher asks a question.

2.Teacher asks students to give response signal when ready to respond.

3. Students rehearse answer using a sentence stem.

4.Beginning with a sentence stem, students share with their peer.

5.Teachers randomly assesses students through individual responses.

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“If I wasn't an educator what would I be and why?”


QUESTION: Write down your answer on a note-card using the following stem:

STEM: If I weren't an educator I would be…..because….

SIGNAL: Stand up when you are ready.

SHARE: Find your partner match (example: chips and salsa) and share.
Find 2 other people to share with. When you have shared with 2 people, go back to your seat.

Assessment: Get ready to share out loud. The person with the shortest last name.

How can you apply this idea?

Bounce cards

STEP 7: Have students participate in structured reading and writing activities.

•Reading and writing activities should be purpose-driven and strategies selected should scaffold the types of thinking that need to occur for complete understanding.

•Clearly define the purpose, plan and the process for each activity.

•Students gain a deeper understanding of content concepts.

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Written Conversation

  1. Brainstorm as a class the attitudes and beliefs of two characters or objects.
  2. Students imagine one thing one character/object might say to the other if given a chance.
  3. Partner A writes a note to partner B. Partner B answers and so on.
  4. Students share with the class.
    Examples: During math class students pass a note representing the views of two characters in a word problem. During science class students can take the roles of various objects such as wind and rocks.

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Write Critically!

  • Identifying similarities and differences: 31-46 percentile points increase
  • Summarizing : 31-46 percentile points increase
  • Note taking: 13-44 percentile points increase

Roving paragraph

1. Read page 49 and 51 from the 7 Steps book. (3-5 minutes)

2. Use the half sheet given to complete the following stem and stand up when ready.

Structured reading and writing activities are important because...

3. Find a partner that is wearing the same shoe style. Share your sentence and write a new one.


4. Find a second partner, somebody with the same clothing colors. Share your two sentences and write a final one.


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Wrapping It All Up!

1. On a post it note, jot down ONE word that captures the essence of today's training.

2. In your table groups, combine all of the words from every individual, add additional words if necessary, to make a complete sentence.**

**Rules: You must use all the words jotted down by individuals and it must be a complete sentence.

Tilttle III ELL Specialist

Maria-Teresa Castellanos