Where would we be without conversation? Throughout history,
conversations have allowed us to see different perspectives build ideas and
solve problems. Conversations, particularly those referred to in this book as
academic conversations, push students to think and learn in lasting ways.
Academic conversations are back-and-forth dialogues in which students focus on
a topic and explore it by building, challenging and negotiating relevant ideas.
Unfortunately, academic conversations are rare in many classrooms.
Talk is often dominated by the teacher and a few students, or it does not
advance beyond short responses to the teacher’s questions. Even certain
teaching approaches and curriculum programs neglect to train students how to
maintain a focused, respectful and thoughtful conversation.
To address these challenges, authors Jeff Zwiers and Marie Crawford
have identified five core communication skills to help students hold productive
academic conversations across content areas. These skills are: elaborating and
clarifying, supporting ideas with evidence, building on and/or challenging
ideas, paraphrasing and synthesising. This book shows teachers how to weave the
cultivation of academic conversation skills and conversations into current