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.

The Value of Exploratory Talk

The Value of Exploratory Talk

The value of exploratory talk
NeilMercer and LynDawes


In this chapter, the authors argue that teachers and teacher-trainers need a clearer understanding of how talk functions in the classroom, as this will provide the best basis for improving the quality of classroom talk and the educational process more generally. Drawing on their own school-based research and that of others, they show how the concept of ‘ground rules’ – meaning the normative principles, usually implicit, which govern social behaviour – can be used to examine how talk is actually used by teachers and their students. They then go on to discuss the implications of the findings of this research for ensuring that talk in the classroom is used to good educational effect. Some ...

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