Teaching Channel Guide to
English Language Learners
How can I structure academic conversations in the classroom to boost oral language development?

As educators of ELLs, it’s important to embed language instruction throughout the day, not just in isolated blocks of ELD time. For this reason, academic conversations are essential to helping students develop a deep understanding of content and language at the same time. But just because we ask students to discuss doesn’t mean they will! We need to provide supports and structures that will engage and challenge our students to have these important conversations. Take a look at the resources on this page to learn more. Have questions? Be sure to ask them in the Q&A!

Read Nicole Knight’s blog post on the importance of academic conversations and how schools can support and prioritize them.
Then, see academic conversations in action by watching some of the videos in this playlist.
Jeff Zweirs, co-author of the book Academic Conversations, suggests three strategies for developing oral language.
Kenji Hakuta offers advice about creating a culture of conversation in your classroom.
Watch how Paul Lowe teaches his students to restate, revoice, and add reasoning during discussions.
See how Tamica Groves empowers her middle school students with talk moves.
Watch how high school teacher Kyle Halle-Erby uses role-alike groups to help his students prepare for literature circle discussions.
See how Elizabeth Iwaszewicz gives students multiple opportunities to practice academic language through a strategy called Second Set Partners.
Watch how this strategy encourages collaboration and equitable speaking opportunities.
Give students multiple opportunities to give and receive verbal feedback with this fun strategy.
Learn how you can use a targeted checklist for formative assessment during academic discussions.
Use technology to to gather data during and after discussions.
Number talks are a great way for students to share mathematical thinking while gaining academic language skills.
In this video, students share their science research in structured small group and full class discussions.
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