Classroom talk, by which children make sense of what their peers and teachers mean, is the most important educational tool for guiding the development of understanding and for jointly constructing knowledge. So what practical steps can teachers take to develop effective classroom interaction?

Bringing together leading international researchers and drawing on the pioneering work of Douglas Barnes, this book considers ways of improving classroom talk.

Key Features

Examines classroom communication and managing social relations; Addresses talk in science classrooms; Covers using critical conversations in studying literature; Looks at exploratory talk and thinking skills; Discusses talking to learn and learning to talk in the mathematics classroom; Investigates the ‘emerging pedagogy’ of the spoken word

With an accessible blend of theory, research and practice, the book will be a valuable resource for teachers, teacher-trainers, policy makers, researchers, and students.

Exploratory Talk for Learning

Exploratory talk for learning


Barnes begins by outlining a ‘constructivist’ view of the nature of learning, and explores its implications for teaching, including the idea that coming to terms with new knowledge requires ‘working on understanding’ which can most readily be achieved through talk. Two kinds of talk, ‘exploratory’ and ‘presentational’, contribute to learning, but each has a different place in the sequence of lessons. Since learning in schools is a social activity, the discussion of learning moves from the individual to the group. A distinction is made between ‘school knowledge’ and ‘action knowledge’, and teachers are advised to consider whether their pupils’ conception of the nature of learning is appropriate. The chapter concludes with the discussion of some practical implications for ...

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