Monday, March 7, 2016

Meaningful Talk About Text - Best of Frank Serafini

This book has been, unfortunately, one of my worst selling books. However, I feel it is some of my best research and writing on how teachers talk with students. The book's title is a term I have never used and I fought with Scholastic to call it 
"Talking Comprehension: Using Language to Expand Understanding
or something like that. 
This excerpt is from the opening chapter:

         To begin, talk is ubiquitous. I mean, everyone is doing it, including classroom teachers. However, it seems no one is talking about it. This begs the question, “Why isn’t anyone, especially classroom teachers, talking about talk?”. Talk is the primary means upon which you draw to implement your curriculum, in general, and the talk that you use, specifically, during your reading lessons and literature discussions is profoundly significant. It is through talk that most things are learned, most information is shared, and through which we negotiate and reconsider our own ideas.

Throughout our daily lives we use language to communicate our intentions and understandings, to foster relationships with other human beings and to apprentice young children into our society. In and out of school settings, language is also used to scaffold the learning experiences of children and to regulate the complexity of the tasks they encounter, enabling them to do things they would not be able to do on their own. It is through language that we create our identities and find our place in the world among ideas, peoples and the artifacts and traditions of the culture that have gone before us.
            In general, the language used in educational settings and institutions is used to help novices learn, teachers teach and communities to be established. For example, children learn through participation in classroom discussions the appropriate ways of talking about particular ideas, concepts, and fields of inquiry such as math, science, and literature. They learn how to interact with one another and the teacher. Particular ways of talking are endorsed in classrooms by teachers’ responses to students, by the formal assessments we use to award grades and such, and by the expectations we set for the learning experiences we provide. In other words, through language children learn how to “do” school.

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