Supporting Coherence in Classroom Discussions Across Content Areas

Classroom discussions have become a major focus for supporting student learning. While much research exists that describes the importance and benefits of classroom discussions for students’ development (Fitzgerald & Palinscar, 2019), the literature has rarely explored similarities and differences in classroom discussions across content areas. Making connections in teaching across content areas is particularly important for elementary teachers who are expected to engage children in discussions of their ideas to deepen their learning in the areas of mathematics, English language arts (ELA), science, and social studies. We currently work with a group of elementary teachers to promote classroom discussions in their teaching across content areas. Our goal in this article is to illuminate how elementary teachers might make sense of facilitating classroom discussions, and the similarities across content, exemplified by the opportunities and challenges of a subset of the teachers with whom we work. The mathematics education literature has shown how students' mathematical learning is supported through intentional classroom discussion (e.g., Lampert, 2001). Research on discussions in mathematics classrooms has: explored how discussions can support students’ deep disciplinary thinking (Kazemi & Stipek, 2001), examined aspects of students’ learning and participation (O’Connor et al., 2017), considered productive practices for its facilitation (Chapin et al., 2009), and specified how teachers can or should enact meaningful discussion practices (Chapin et al., 2009).
This article was originally published in Connections. The version of record is available at:
Prough, Sam, Lynsey Gibbons, and Anne Garrison Wilhelm. “Supporting Coherence in Classroom Discussions Across Content Areas.” Connections, no. Fall 2022 (2022).