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date: 27 October 2020

Traditions, Research, and Practice Supporting Academically Productive Classroom Discourselocked

  • Jie Park, Jie ParkClark University
  • Sarah Michaels, Sarah MichaelsClark University
  • Renee AffolterRenee AffolterUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst
  •  and Catherine O'ConnorCatherine O'ConnorBoston University


This article focuses on both research and practice relating to academically productive classroom discourse. We seek to “expand the conversation” to include newcomers to the field of classroom talk, as well as practitioners and youth researchers who want to contribute to knowledge building in this area. We first explore a variety of traditions, questions, and methods that have been prominent in work on classroom talk. We also summarize some key findings that have emerged over the past several decades:

• Finding 1: Certain kinds of talk promote robust learning for ALL students.

• Finding 2: The field lacks shared conceptualizations of what productive talk is and how best to characterize it.

• Finding 3: Dialogic discourse is exceedingly rare in classrooms, at all grade levels and across all domains.

• Finding 4: A helpful way forward: conceptualizing talk moves as tools.

Following the presentation of each research finding we provide a set of commentaries—explicating and in some cases problematizing the findings. Finally, we provide some promising approaches that presume cultural and linguistic assets among both students and teachers, including curricular programs, teacher education, professional development programs, teacher research, and intergenerational communities of inquiry. In all of this, we try to make our own assumptions, traditions, and governing gazes explicit, as a multi-generational and multi-role group of authors, to encourage greater transparency among all who work in this important and potentially transformative field of study.


  • Educational Strategies and Policy
  • Teaching Skills and Techniques
  • Education
  • Education
  • Education

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