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Learning Orientation

Emphasize learning and understanding and de-emphasize grades, competition, and social comparison

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).

Learning Orientation Talk Moves

Principle: Emphasize student reasoning, sensemaking, and developing a deep understanding as the goal of activities, rather than producing the right answer or complying with instructions

Getting students to use evidence to support and evaluate claims
"What did you see/observe that makes you think that?"
"How can you support or defend what you just said?"
"Is that evidence sufficient? Are there other kinds of evidence that could support our claim?"
"Interesting idea, [name]. How could we get more evidence for that?"
"What's your evidence for that?"
"How do you know that?"
"What did you do to figure that out?"
"What evidence have we collected/what science ideas have we learned that can help us explain this phenomenon?"
"How could we test/further investigate that conclusion/idea?"
"That's interesting - tell us more about that."
"Take your time; say more."
Press students with a counterexample or restate a student response in a "devil's advocate" question (e.g., "Sure, but let's say I did decide to combine the substances--what would happen then?")
"Why do you think that?"
"Why not?"
When students do change their thinking: "What changed your thinking about this?"
"What new questions does this raise for you?"
"How could we gather more evidence/find out more about that?" After collecting responses: "Who will take that on for us?"
"After listening to our discussion, who has changed their thinking?"
"How has your thinking changed from before to after the investigation?"
"Groups were struggling with [X], so how about we talk about why that was challenging and discuss the things we did in response. Let's start on this side of the room. Group A, what did you find challenging about [X]?"
"It's okay not to know. 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."
"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 be learning much! Maybe we can find a strategy to help us tackle this problem/challenge more effectively."
"What still confuses you about [X]?"
"What questions do you have?" (instead of "Any questions?" or "Does that make sense?")

Use evaluation and feedback practices that focus on deeper content understanding/reasoning and students' effort and strategy use over normative comparisons and ability/intelligence

"I'm looking forward to seeing your thinking on [assessment]." (instead of "I'm hoping to see some good/better scores")
"I can see from the [assessment] that maybe we should spend some more time discussing [concept] together so that we really understand it."
"As you prepare for [assessment], think about how you're going to show your understanding and explain your thinking instead of just memorizing facts."
"Let's talk about some ideas for how to practice thinking through these concepts at home to prepare for the [assessment]."
"The most important thing is that you really understand this stuff. It’s less important whether you got it the first time around or have to revisit it a few times to get it to click."
"Scientists have to revise their work all the time."
"You're becoming an expert."
"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."
"Look at the improvements you’ve made. Your hard work really paid off"
"I noticed that you made progress on [X]."
"I was happy to give you extra time because you were all working so thoughtfully and it’s important that you have that time to figure this out."
"I can see how hard you worked / I can tell you put a lot of effort into this because…"
"Looking at what you have here, [suggestion] would strengthen this because [rationale based on rubric description or evaluation standard]."
"You're not there yet, but I think if you work hard on [strategy], you’ll see improvement."
"Your strategies got you this far; what else might you try at this point?"
"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."

De-emphasize social comparison and competition

"I’m not asking you to be right, I’m asking you to share your thinking."
"Tell us your best guess right now so that we have as many ideas/predictions as possible to return to later." (emphasizing that we can update our understanding of a phenomenon as we gain evidence)
When enforcing wait time: "Take your time and think about it for a minute. It is not important that you get your answer before others. It is important that you take the time you need to think through the question. I'll ask for volunteers in a few minutes."
"Did anyone say it differently?" (affirms original response/right answer while communicating value in hearing different ways of expressing the same idea)
"What's another way we could do/say that?"
"[Name] just suggested [X] - do we agree with that idea? Who has a different perspective or something to add to our thinking about [X]?"
"We just heard [name] describe [X]; who else had that observation?" With follow-up: "What other observations did you all have?"
"Don't worry about how your neighbor did. Instead, I'd like you to spend a few minutes looking over my comments. See if you can identify where you are making mistakes and what you need to keep working on."
"The way you are thinking about this in this assignment is so much more sophisticated than how you were thinking last week - I can tell you've really grown a lot in your thinking."

Model the commitment to learning and growth that you want your students to exhibit

"I made a mistake there. Looking at it again, it looks like I went wrong when I did [X]. Next time I think I’ll use [strategy] to check my process."
"Oops, I made a mistake there, but that's ok…"
  • "...that’s what happens when you try something new/difficult."
  • "...it gave me the chance to learn [X]."
"Thanks, [name]. Your comment/question helped me find an error in my thinking/my work. This is why it's helpful to discuss our ideas with others."
"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]."
"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]."