accountable talk

What is Accountable Talk?

Taken from: Principles of Learning: CD Rom Reference Manual.

(Institute for Learning: University of Pittsburgh)

"Although educators hold divergent views about classroom behavior, most would probably concede that silence is not necessarily golden. Many would probably agree that talking is essential to learning, and when students actively engage with learning through talk, the classroom is bound to get noisy sometimes. Where academic rigor and a thinking curriculum are being practiced together, a substantial portion of instructional time will involve students in talk related to the core concepts that are being studied.

But it is not true that a noisy classroom is necessarily a good one, any more than a silent classroom is. What matters is what students are talking about and how. When students are merely nattering at each other or shooting the breeze about various social events--or if they are simply going through the motions of discussion without really working on the learning problem--the talk distracts from their learning rather than advancing it. To be valuable, talk has to be accountable."

indicators of Accountable talk

"Whatever its form--whole class discussion, small group work, peer or teacher conferences, interviews--talk should be accountable to the learning community, to knowledge and standards of evidence that are appropriate to the subject, and to generally accepted standards of reasoning.

Accountable Talk sharpens students' thinking by reinforcing their ability to use and create knowledge. Teachers create the norms and skills of Accountable Talk in their classrooms by modeling appropriate forms of discussion and by questioning, probing, and leading conversations. For example, teachers may press for clarification and explanation, require justifications of proposals and challenges, recognize and challenge misconceptions, demand evidence for claims and arguments, or interpret and "revoice" students' statements.

Over time, students can be expected to carry out each of these conversational 'moves' themselves in peer discussions. "