Steps in developing a dialogic ethos
A guide to preparing your classroom with an ethos that promotes dialogue
Below are a series of steps that can guide you in the process of developing a classroom ethos that promotes dialogue. Select the + icon on each of the steps to reveal further information and links to associated resources.
Step 1: Learn more about classroom dialogue and dialogic teaching!
Step 2: Audit talk in your classroom
Observe the type of language that is already in use in your classroom. Consider conducting a ‘talk audit’. Resources and activities are linked below to help you in this process:
Activity: how do you use whole-class talk?
Step 3: Prepare your classroom for class discussions
Productive discussions require a classroom culture in which student talk is valued and the goals and expectations for class dialogue are explicit. A supportive classroom climate for risk taking, and opportunities for multiple students to participate actively and learn together needs to be developed.
- Determining the expectations for dialogue in your class – see examples of dialogue expectations
- Introducing your students to those expectations
- Establishing ‘ground rules for talking’ to achieve dialogue expectations (and involving your students in this process)
- Exploring your students’ ideas about the purposes and functions of talk in the classroom and encourage them to improve their own use of talk for learning – activities to promote students’ reflection about talk; worksheets for students’ self-evaluation
Step 4: Prepare to promote quality whole-class and small-group dialogue
Whole-class dialogue: It is especially productive when discussions allow students to reveal and question their existing ideas (including misconceptions) and relate them to new information.
Suggestions for promoting whole-class dialogue
Small-group dialogue: Students‘ learning can be improved by dialogue and collaboration in small groups. However, for it to be productive, certain requirements have to be considered and specific ground rules for group work can be created.
Suggestions for promoting dialogic interactions between peers
Step 5: Identify interests and/or concerns regarding classroom dialogue
Have you identified any particular interests and/or issues that you would like to address? We suggest conducting a systematic inquiry or developing a project to improve the quality of these aspects of classroom dialogue.
Steps for conducting an inquiry in your classroom
Remember that it can take some time to establish a “dialogic classroom”. Talk is in itself a skill that needs to be practised.
Consider conducting systematic observations of talk in your classroom to establish clearer goals for dialogue in your class.