Notice and Note – Questions 4 and 5

Here is my summary of questions 4 and 5 are answered in Notice and Note

Question 4 – What do we mean by intellectual communities?
In order for rigorous learning to occur, we need to redefine our classrooms as intellectual communities. This concept gets lost when we are too wrapped up with data and tests and initiatives.
“The purpose of schools ought to be to create intellectual communities where students are encouraged to be risk takers, to be curious, to be willing to try and fail, and to be more interested in asking questions than providing answers” (24).
A community is formed through discourse. Which leads us to…
Question 5 – What is the role of talk?
It’s easier to feel inspired and to create a true intellectual community when there is conversation, not lecture, and dialogue, not monologue.
Too often classroom talk can be classified as monologic, not dialogic. Monologic talk does not foster engagement and curiosity.
  • Monologic – something is being transmitted and there is a difference in status between the asker and the answerer.
  • Dialogic – conversations in which the speaker becomes listener and listener becomes speaker; there is a give and take.
Asking authentic questions:
Asking questions for which you already know the answer is inauthentic, yet that is the most common type of question asked in classrooms. Teachers ask students questions that they already know the answer to, rather than allowing students to pose their own questions OR to ask questions that require everyone to grabble with a big idea.
This inauthentic type of question (monologic) fails to keep students engaged. The point is simply for the correct answer to come out and be heard by all.
Authentic questions are questions for which you really don’t know the answer. The questioner then becomes involved in the answering process (dialogic). Both the asker and the answerer become vital to the process of figuring out the question – both are equal contributors.
Ways to improve student conversation and dialogue:

  • Step back and let students pose questions
  • Give prompts when needed
  • Encourage students to elaborate
  • Ask high-level questions of all students
  • Encourage students to use the vocabulary of the discipline
  • Arrange desks so students see each other’s faces
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