Strategies to Promote Accountable Discussion

Having Students Pronounce Vocabulary

Academic vocabulary words are new to all students, and pronouncing new vocabulary words can be intimidating for many students. This affects their confidence and engagement with the vocabulary. I recommend that the class chorally pronounces each vocabulary word (yes, even in secondary classrooms!) so they become comfortable sharing the word out loud. Two ways to encourage choral pronunciation are:

Having Students Discuss Questions Using Sentence Stems

Structured conversations about academic content is critical for students to share ideas and develop new levels of understanding. Strategies for setting clear expectations and structuring the language of the discussions, such as the Q-SSS-A strategy, are highly effective at engaging students in academic discussions. Below are some strategies to employ if students are not all sharing using the sentence stem:

Appropriately Targeting Levels of Questioning

The questions and sentence stems in this resource are designed to progressively require students to think and discuss more deeply as they examine and re-examine the visuals. The first level is observational, so that students are simply describing what they see in the visual. The next level is relational, where students are making connections between this word and other words. The final level is inferential: what can they predict or infer about how this concept would play out in hypothetical contexts? These three levels and their alignment to Bloom's Taxonomy are described in the table to the right.

In a heterogeneous classroom environment, it is recommended to start students at the observational level so that they can apply and share their background knowledge about the vocabulary. When questioning students at the relational level, it will likely be important to expose the students to the other vocabulary word(s) the question is relating. For example, when exploring the visual about the word axis with the question, "How is the Earth's axis related to its rotation?," it is important that the students have seen the visual for rotation as well.

Helping Students Explore the Visual

Some students might need support in identifying finer details of visuals. Helpful strategies include:

Explaining What Certain Symbols Mean

There are many symbols repeatedly used throughout The Visual Non-Glossary. While many students can infer the meaning of these symbols as they pertain to the visuals, it may be helpful to create an anchor chart specifying exactly what they mean. To the left is an example anchor chart, which can be referred to throughout the year.

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