Establishing ground rules
A necessary feature for successful classroom dialogue is that the class agrees upon a set of ground rules for talk, which will encourage effective, reasoned, exploratory talk. It is important that the students feel a sense of ownership of the rules.
If you haven’t already watched it, Video 3 in our collection of introductory video resources offers further information on how ground rules can create a supportive classroom culture for dialogue.
When using ground rules in your setting, briefly introduce the concept of ground rules as basic rules to which everyone agrees. Use examples such as school rules or rules for a sport. Then, give your students the task of establishing specific ground rules for talk. The whole group should agree on the set of ground rules for talk.
After ground rules are established they can be supported by:
- Negotiating target dialogic practices or goals for the lesson.
- Students being given or assuming responsibility for managing dialogue.
- Students being involved in monitoring or evaluating its effectiveness.
Further resources and activities to try:
- Ground rules for talking and thinking together | pdf
- Student ground rules for exploratory talk | pdf
This is a resource that can be used as the initial basis for an activity in which students think together to choose six ground rules that will help everyone to talk.
- Worksheet: traffic lights | pdf
The traffic lights worksheet can be used as the initial basis for an activity in which younger children (i.e. ages 6 to 8) consider how to make their talk in groups most effective together.
- Resource: about ground rules for talk | pdf
This resource discusses how, for successful group work, students in a class must collectively agree on a set of ground rules for talk in order to encourage effective, reasoned exploratory talk. It contains good examples of ground rules linked with exploratory talk.
- Magic Number Squares | pdf
Supports teachers in providing students with an opportunity to practice using ground rules for talk.
- ‘Cats and dogs’ | pdf
This is a maths talk activity that you can use with students to promote the use of ground rules.