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 and Dialogic Inquiry

Exploratory talk and dialogic inquiry
GordonWells and TamaraBall


In this chapter, Wells and Ball explain how an inquiry approach to teaching and learning can help generate more productive dialogue and exploratory talk in the classroom. The chapter is based on their analysis of whole-class discussions and group activity in primary/elementary schools in the USA on which this approach was implemented and evaluated, and also draws on the reflections of a group of teachers who were actively involved in the research. They give special consideration to the role of the teacher in making inquiry and associated discussion meaningful and interesting for pupils. They conclude with a summary of conditions which their research indicates can help classroom talk become most productive as pupils pursue ...

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