The Importance of Effective Classroom Talk

The productive hum of students engaged in talking and learning is like hearing a symphony, a favorite song. They are evidence of a teacher intentionally planning for and developing the expectations and strategies of effective talk with their students.

“Children’s speaking and listening lead the way for their reading and writing skills, and together these language skills are the primary tools of the mind for all future learning.” – Roskos, Tabors, & Lenhart, 2009


Increased effective discourse between students leads to deeper learning.

“According to John Hattie (2018), teachers can ask between 200 and 300 questions a day – whereas students typically ask clarification questions. Research also indicates that teachers should limit their speaking to 20-30% of the class time and the student talk time should be around 80%.” – Greenwood


According to Hattie’s meta-analysis, classroom discussion has an effect size of .82 which is more than twice the average growth in a year! When students talk together, their relationships strengthen, their oral language skills grow, they see each other’s strengths and feel an increasing sense of belonging, and engagement increases! Today I want to bring together some rich resources on classroom discourse, to support the ways that teachers scaffold increasingly complex student talk in their classrooms.

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