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Developing Dialogue in the Classroom

Posted on: 04 Sep 2020 by Education Director

Without a shadow of a doubt, dialogue is one of the most integral aspects of learning development; it allows pupils to explore and internalise ideas by being able to articulate and explain their thinking and it enables teachers to ascertain and address misconceptions and support in moving learning forward. So, if it is so critical to the learning process why has it been identified by pupils as a positive consequence of remote learning and what were we doing differently during this period that we can replicate in the future?

A number of responses from pupils referenced that the way remote learning and breakout sessions were structured enabled them to have much more personalised and one to one attention that they did not normally get in class time; additionally, for those who were shyer, they commented that they felt more confident to contribute in these smaller sessions or to type their answers in a chat function or using other recording technology - this enabled teachers to not only ascertain understanding but to give feedback much more precisely at earlier points in the lesson to more children in order to move their learning forward.

The key elements of remote learning that potentially made this possible were factors such as shorter introduction and exposition sessions, pre-recorded videos meaning that children could watch this at their own pace and the teacher could be on hand for smaller groups and similarly, the types of tasks that children were able to complete were those that tended to be more independent and open ended, therefore teachers and pupils again were able to have smaller group discussions. This also meant that in the remote learning sphere, the precise oral dialogue and feedback led to a lower necessity for written marking, whilst supporting pupils to modify and improve their work effectively.

As schools fully return to the physical environment, September is the perfect opportunity to be able to take what we have learned from this, to:

-be innovative in how we conduct the different parts of our lessons to enable pupils to have more dialogue and similarly for us to work for longer with smaller groups;ask yourself, does everyone need to be included in the introduction to the lesson or can some pupils watch a pre-recorded video which is more open ended and investigative, enabling dialogue between them and then with the teacher? 

-consider how we use the layout of the classroom and the task design to enable more dialogue between pupils even whilst social distancing. 

-think about how technology can enable all pupils to contribute and have opportunity every lesson for dialogue between them and the teacher/ each other. Some examples of this are: Google Classroom stream, Pear Deck, Mentimeter and Jamboard which can all enable multiple pupils to contribute at any one time.

-Consider technology that enables effective targeted formative feedback that lessens workload, such as Kami voice recording at specific text points. We know that after pupils’ own belief in themselves, effective teacher feedback will have the most impact - but we also know that being inventive and smart about how we present feedback will support pupils in real time to move forward and free up more time from marking for planning and designing the next exciting learning opportunities!

Sam Selby

Education Director

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