Build a Culture of Meaningful Academic Discourse
The effective facilitation of academic discourse is challenging because it requires educators to teach their students a skill set that is complex and varied. If students are going to be prepared for college and career, they must be able to effectively read, write, and verbally exchange subject-specific information at every grade level. That requires teachers to ask themselves complex questions as they design instruction like…
- What opportunities for academic dialogue and writing exist within the content area that I am designing instruction for?
- What specific academic language skills do I need to teach alongside my content objectives?
- What supports do my students need if they are to effectively engage in the academic language goals embedded within this lesson?
Goalbook Pathways supports teachers with designing discourse rich instruction through our language standards and by explicitly embedding language skills across all content areas. This means teachers can design explicit instruction and authentic student practice that pushes students to engage in rigorous dialogue, debate, and writing in all content areas.
Explicit instruction is crucial to building an environment of academically rich discourse. Teachers must model the discussion habits they want to see.
The language standards within Pathways directly address the demands of creating discourse rich classroom spaces in three key areas: Grammar & Usage Conventions, Writing Conventions, and Vocabulary Acquisition & Use.They help teachers design explicit instruction that lays the foundation for rigorous writing and classroom discussion.
We also have instructional scaffolds that strategically support students with the nuts and bolts of language instruction like academic vocabulary acquisition:
In order for the explicit instruction around vocabulary and language skills to stick, students must engage with the vocabulary and skills in real contexts with their peers. Our strategies take best practices for building discourse rich classrooms and makes them understandable and actionable for teachers:
- Socratic Seminar
- Circle Time
- Essential Questions
- Guided Peer Discussions
- Carousel Brainstorming
- Peer Interview
- Interactive Writing
- Save the Last Word for Me
- Inquiry Activities
Academic Language Embedded Across All Content Areas
Every content area and every grade level in Goalbook Pathways is embedded with activities that require students to read, write, and think in ways that establish a common language and build the skills students need to effectively engage in academic discourse. The tasks that students work on are language rich and require them to engage in higher order thinking.
- Math grade 3 (Assessment Item): Develop and understand fractions as numbers: Generate fraction inequalities and justify why they are unequal
- Writing grade 3 (Assessment Item): Determine which source contains the most useful information about a particular topic.
- Reading grade 1(Activity): Read informational texts and discuss how to rank the topics, support claims with textual-evidence
- Math grade 6 (Assessment Item): Analyze and describe how a percent with a decimal affects the lowest possible quantity in a real-world situation
- Writing grade 7 (Assessment Item): Analyze and describe how the narrator is impacted by events in the text.
- Reading grade 8 (Activity): Debating Inferences through Images, Scenarios, & Complex Texts
- Math grade 9–12 (Activity): Identify the mathematical mistakes and justify misconceptions using mathematical reasoning
- Reading grade 9–10 (Activity): Debating Inferences through Images, Scenarios, & Complex Texts
- Writing grade 9–10 (Activity): Read informational texts and discuss how to rank the topics, support claims with textual-evidence