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Support students’ confidence through instruction that includes clear expectations; challenging work that is calibrated to the knowledge, skills, and abilities of students; and informational and encouraging feedback

Talk Moves

These are sentence/question stems or discourse moves that teachers might say to students when enacting this MDP. Additional ideas and strategies for developing talk moves and classroom discourse skills for both teachers and students can be found in the Accountable Talk Sourcebook, Open SciEd Teacher Handbook, Talk Science Primer, and Discourse Primer for Science Teachers.

Because the five MDPs are synergistic, some talk moves found in this MDP overlap or align strongly with talk moves or talk move categories found in other MDP sections. These talk moves, or the overarching category, are tagged with color-coded dots showing the alignment with the other MDP(s).

Confidence Talk Moves

Principle: Provide clear expectations

What to say when explaining and clarifying the learning goal for a task
"The reason why we’re doing [X] is to help us understand [Y]"
"Why are we doing this today?"
Invite students to recap/summarize/synthesize: "What have we learned/discovered?" (also supports understanding)
"I see that your team has [X]. A good next step might be to [Y] because it would [connection to learning goal]."
"Before we get started, can someone tell us in their own words what you are expected to do for this assignment?"
"What questions do you have before we get started?"
"Can someone please read today’s objective for us?" [student reads objective] "Thank you [name]. How will that help us to better understand [phenomenon] (solve the [design [problem])?"
"Recall that yesterday we [summary of activity and/or learning] and we wanted to know more about [topic/question]. So today we are going to explore [topic/question]."
"Looking at today's aim, does anyone have any ideas how this connects to [phenomenon/design problem/driving question]?"
"While you work on this, remember you have the following resources you can use: [describe resources/scaffolds]. I've listed them on the board in case you need a reminder. With [Resource X] you can [explanation of how resource X will help students]."
"You'll have about [time frame] to complete [section/part of project/task]. You don't need to go past [portion of project/task] so focus on [focal part of project/task] today. We'll work on the other part tomorrow."
"I've put up a couple of examples of what your project might look like. What are some features you notice that you think you might include in your project? [student responses] Are there any parts you would like to know more about? [student responses]"
"I expect this next task will take about 10 minutes. I'll check in with you in about 8 minutes to see if you need more time."
"Remember, after you read about [topic], we are going to discuss it in our groups, and then share out about how it applies [e.g., phenomenon]."
"This is a lot of work, so I will check in with about 5 minutes to go in class to see if we might need time tomorrow. Let's see if we can do it all today."
"In about [time] you can start to go to the library to look for more resources. I'll let you know table by table so it doesn't get too crowded over there."
"When you and your partner complete a section, move on to the partner discussion we talked about earlier."
"Once you get to [part of lesson], we'll pause so I can take you through how to do [task] since it is the first time you all have done [task]."

Principle: Provide challenging work

"[Task] is really challenging work, and I know you can do it. You might think about [strategy/next step] next."
"I see that you have really been working hard on [task]. I would like to challenge you to [achievable and challenging learning goal]."
"Challenge is good. People learn from challenging experiences."
"Scientists and engineers are challenged all the time because they are figuring new stuff out. They are often not sure what the 'right' way to do things is. Some of the most important scientific and technological advancements came when someone got stuck with a problem they weren't sure how to solve at first."
"It's okay if you have a setback or make a mistake while you're working. The work you're doing is challenging and sometimes it takes a few tries to get the result you have in your mind."
"It will be very exciting in [time frame] when you will be so much better at [skill]!"
Concluding feedback on written work: "I'm giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them."
Return to a student if you've gone elsewhere to get a question (fully) answered: "It really helps to get multiple perspectives on these challenging questions. Can you summarize the responses for us?"
"You are really working/thinking/challenging yourself like a [scientist/engineer]. The next step they might take is..."
"If you really wanted to push this further, you could try [describe extension activity]"
"I'd love to see you challenge yourself and see where you can take this."

Principle: Guide and support students

"What if you and [student] work together? I think the two of you would be a great team to figure this out."
"I saw that [name] had a nice strategy for doing that, maybe they can give you some tips?"
"What did you do to figure that out?"
"Your strategies got you this far; what else might you try at this point?"
"What did you do on [earlier task] that helped you? Do you think that could work again here?"
"And if we get stuck while working, what can we do to get unstuck?"
"Do you have strategies to help you with that step?"/ "What resources might be helpful for you in completing that step?"
"How might you break this problem into smaller steps?"
"I can see how that would be difficult. I do see that you did [task] successfully! What do you think your next step is?"
"Use what we've learned in class and ask for help when you need it." (instead of, "Good luck!")
"[Name] saw that this reading is similar to the one we did last week. That's important because it means we can use some of the same strategies we used then to identify the important information."
"One reason to record initial ideas is to be able to see the progress you have made in your learning."
"When I find something difficult/don't know the answer, sometimes I use [strategy] and that helps me."
"When I don't know something/struggle with something, I try to [X]"
"Here's how I’m thinking about this..."
"As scientists, we know that we need evidence to support our claim, so I think I'll try designing an investigation to collect more observations."
"As strategic readers, we [explain reading strategy]."

Principle: Give informational and encouraging feedback

"I like that you [specific feature of student response] because it shows me that you [comment about strategy use or effort]."
"I really like the way you planned out your steps, that really shows me that you thought carefully about your strategy."
"That's a really important point because [reasoning]."
"I can really tell the effort you showed to do [task]; look at the improvement you've made!"
"I noticed that you made progress on [task/skill/ learning goal]."
"Great use of evidence to support your claims."
"I noticed that you backed up the claim you made with evidence. That helps the rest of us to determine if we agree with your claim or not."
"That's great. I can tell you put a lot of effort into this because…"
"It's okay to make mistakes. Some of the most important scientific discoveries happened as a result of mistakes, so it's important to think about what you might learn from this and how you can use your new knowledge next time."
"Why do you think you made that error?"
"Show me what you've done so far so that we can think together about what to try next."
"It looks like you might be struggling a bit; that's okay. That is how we learn new things. If it were super easy then you probably wouldn't learn much from it. But maybe we can find a strategy to help tackle this."
"Here's what you did well..., and here are some suggestions for improvement..."
"Looking at what you have here, [suggestion] would strengthen this because [provide rationale based on rubric description or evaluation standard]."
"Remember that we're working toward [goal/product], so I think [strategy/suggestion] will help us because [reasoning]."
"You're not there yet, but I think if you work hard on [strategy], you’ll see improvement."
"Maybe if you try [strategy] you’ll figure it out."
"I have very high expectations for my students. The reason I'm pushing you with these suggestions is that I know you can handle this work and meet those expectations."