Academic Conversations – How to Teach

Hello friends,

This is the second part of a 2-part series on teaching academic conversation.  Click here if you want to read Part 1.

Hope you like it!  Let me know how you teach students the art of academic conversatIons below in the comments!

What do you do after modeling and practicing academic conversations?

Now we want to scaffold our instruction to help students through these conversations. We want to talk about formal and informal language.

I came up with a list of academic conversation starters that covered:

  • stating an opinion
  • active listening
  • clarifying ideas
  • respectfully disagreeing

As a class, we talked about each category.   We talk about how to use academic language. I introduced the sentence frames that were examples for each group. 

Academic Conversations: State Opinions

Say what you think!  Prove your ideas

  • I think that _____because ____.
  • I conclude that _____because it says in the text ____.
  • I think that the answer is _____.
  • In my opinion, the steps to solve this problem are ___
Click here to download

Then we practiced.  We practiced whole class and then in groups.

As students became more comfortable with the procedure, I began to take the scaffold (sentence frames) away.

Grab your Academic Talk Scaffold freebie here!

Remember don’t let your English newcomers sit in the corner.  English Language Learners (ELL) can join in on this practice.  Have your ELLs join in by acting out the concept, drawing their understanding of the content, or gesturing.

Let me know what activities your favorites are for building academic talk in your classrooms!


Grab some examples of structured academic conversation models here.  These work as scaffolds.  Present the frames, model, and practice,  then take the scaffolds away!

Let me know how you teach academic conversations.

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