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Academic Conversations: Classroom Talk that Fosters Critical Thinking and Content Understandings

4.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1571108845
ISBN-10: 157110884X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

This book will dazzle you with its passion and practicality. There are common sense and uncommonly creative ideas for any lesson you're planning for tomorrow's third grade reading group or high school history class. --Yardsticks Blog

This resource is the single tool you need to help your students create the essential link between thinking, speaking, and writing.- --Professionally Speaking

From critical thinking and literacy skills to building a respectful professional classroom environment, this is packed with basic ideas perfect for any high school to college-level educator. --Midwest Book Review

About the Author

Jeff Zwiers, Ed.D., works with teachers and schools nationally and internationally on the development of literacy, language, and content area instruction. He also teaches teacher education courses at Stanford University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Stenhouse Publishers (November 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157110884X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1571108845
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It's a paradox, but English teachers almost completely ignore the teaching of speaking skills because they figure kids converse just fine -- a little TOO well, in fact. Mea culpa, because I'm as guilty as the next guy. Luckily, this book opened my eyes to the possibilities of a skill-based approach to teaching academic conversation.

Part of me says I'm too busy for this, what with all the demands of teaching reading, writing, vocabulary, and even public speaking, but Jeff Zwiers and Marie Crawford have convinced me that I cannot ignore this any longer. What's more, they proved that academic conversations will greatly improve student writing. The icing on the cake? Students will actually ENJOY the activities in this book. Think of it this way: students' love for conversing is a like a raging river. And academic conversation activities are like a hydroelectric plant built to convert that untapped energy into enduring light. The book's organization is systematic and logical. The chapter headings give you an idea of the steps:

Ch. 1 -- Reasons to Converse in School
Ch. 2 -- Getting Started with Academic Conversations
Ch. 3 -- Lesson Activities for Developing Core Conversation Skills
Ch. 4 -- Designing Effective Conversation Tasks
Ch. 5 -- Training Students for Advanced Conversations
Ch. 6 -- Developing Academic Grammar and Vocabulary Through Conversation
Ch. 7 -- Conversations in Language Arts
Ch. 8 -- Conversations in History
Ch. 9 -- Conversations in Science
Ch. 10 -- Academic Conversation Assessment
Ch. 11 -- Reminders

Although ACADEMIC CONVERSATIONS covers many types of large and small group discussions done in class, it focuses mainly on paired conversation.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I buy lots of books about how to improve instruction in reading and writing, and I am so often disappointed. The books always seem to be written by people who have never spent much time in a real classroom and whose ideas seem more applicable to small children than grown up college students, the audience for which I write. But this book is a wonderful exception and I find much of what they say about framing conversations can be integrated into instruction for reading and writing.

I particularly like the way they define terms many others use in a vague and general way. They don't even let a word like "evidence," often thrown around but seldom defined, go unexplained and they define it as a "Broad term used for any information that logically supports a hypothesis or perspective." They also offer very good and, again, very specific suggestions for in class exercises, like "quotation negotiation," where the instructor posts a theme or opinion and then distributes different quotations to the class. Students then decide which ones support the stated theme or opinion and which ones don't. LOTS of great ideas here, with equally concrete examples for practice. A must have if you are interested in teaching students to read, write, think, and oh yes, converse in a way that will help them in school or, for that matter, at work. Kudos to the authors.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book made understanding about communication skills for students easy. The questions and responses will help students develop two way conversations unlike one way response prompts. The clarification on the various types of communication skills were excellent (questioning, piggybacking, clarifying, summarizing). I am excited about sharing the information with teachers I work with.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Academic Conversations by Jeff Zwiers discusses the power of lessons built around student discussions, often in pairs or small groups, around content topics. He presents a persuasive case for how these conversations can increase critical thinking, content understanding, integration of information, and connection of this content to other content in a subject, cross-curriculum, and to the lives of the students. The conversations increase the ability of students to form and articulate opinions and increase peer interaction and understanding. They also make school more interesting and relevant to the the student.

Zwiers provides many strategies for creating/enabling these conversations as well as rubrics (for teachers and students) to evaluate them. The book is an excellent mix of theoretical and practical. I have begun trying out some of the many suggestions and have found them extremely helpful and exciting.

Academic Conversations is a highly engaging and useful book. I strongly recommend it to all teachers, including those teaching special education and ESL.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book talks about conversing in the classroom for all subject areas. As this is to be required by the common core and something which students need to learn the art of doing, I think this book addresses this problem in an intelligent manner. Students spend hours talking to their friends with handheld devices when they should be communicating directly, A must for all secondary teachers!
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Format: Paperback
This is by far the best book on this topic I have ever come across. My head swirled with possibilities the moment I started reading it. I have spent many days pondering how to implement all the conversational topics. I recommend this book to every teacher grade four and up. Of the people I have recommended it to and that bought it, they have also been completely amazed by this book.
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