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Challenging Learning Through Dialogue

Strategies to Engage Your Students and Develop Their Language of Learning
First Edition
By: James Andrew Nottingham, Jill Nottingham, Martin Renton

Foreword by Douglas Fisher

Classroom discussion has a major effect on student learning. How do we get students to talk more? This book transforms up-to-date research into strategies that work.

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781506376523
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Series: Corwin Teaching Essentials
  • Year: 2017
  • Page Count: 208
  • Publication date: January 25, 2017

Price: $39.95



Using classroom discussions to teach good habits of thinking

Classroom discussion has a major effect on student learning. In fact, dialogue is one of the best vehicles for learning how to think, make moral decisions, and understand another person’s point of view. Research also indicates that most teachers talk too much in the classroom and don’t wait long enough for students to respond. How do we improve the quality of classroom discussion? Challenging Learning Through Dialogue transforms the most up-to-date research into practical strategies that work. Readers will learn

  • How to build in more “wait-time” for better quality thinking and questioning from students
  • How to use dialogue to teach reasoning, collaboration, and good habits of thinking
  • The three types of dialogue and how to teach the most effective version: exploratory talk
  • Dozens of practical strategies for exploratory dialogue
  • Global examples of fun ways to teach dialogue
  • An innovative new instructional strategy called Classroom Mysteries

Written by an internationally known team of educational innovators, this book is for all educators who aim to use effective classroom dialogue to engage students in learning.

"This valuable book is a must for teachers and families who wish to have their children learn to think and communicate with greater precision and clarity.”
Arthur L. Costa, Ed. D., Professor Emeritus
California State University Sacramento and Co-Director, International Institute for Habits of Mind

"James Nottingham’s work on Challenging Learning is a critical element of creating Visible Learners. This new series will help teachers hone the necessary pedagogical skills of dialogue, feedback, questioning, and mindset.”
John Hattie, Professor & Director, Melbourne Education Research Institute
University of Melbourne

Key features

Teachers will find:
  • How to build in more "wait time" for better quality thinking and questioning from students
  • How to use dialogue to teach reasoning, collaboration, and good habits of thinking
  • The three types of dialogue and how to teach the most effective dialogue: explorative
  • Dozens of practical strategies for explorative dialogue
  • Global examples of fun ways to teach dialogue


James Andrew Nottingham photo

James Andrew Nottingham

James Nottingham is co-founder and director of Challenging Learning, a group of companies with 30 employees in 6 countries. His passion is in transforming the most up-to-date research into strategies that really work in the classroom. He is regarded by many as one of the most engaging, thought-provoking and inspirational speakers in education.

His first book, Challenging Learning, was published in 2010 and has received widespread critical acclaim. Since then, he has written 6 books for teachers, leaders, support staff, and parents. These books share the best research and practice connected with learning; dialogue; feedback; the learning pit; early years education; and growth mindset.

Before training to be a teacher, James worked on a pig farm, in the chemical industry, for the American Red Cross, and as a teaching assistant in a school for deaf children. At university, he gained a first-class honours degree in education (a major turnaround after having failed miserably at school). He then worked as a teacher and leader in primary and secondary schools in the UK before co-founding an award-winning, multi-million-pound regeneration project supporting education, public and voluntary organisations across north east England.

Skolvärlden (Swedish Teaching Union) describes James as “one of the most talked about names in the world of school development” and the Observer newspaper in the UK listed him among the Future 500 - a “definitive list of the UK's most forward-thinking and brightest innovators.”

Jill Nottingham photo

Jill Nottingham

Jill Nottingham’s background is in teaching, leadership and consultancy. She has been a teacher and leader in kindergartens and schools in some of the more socially deprived areas of North East England. During that time, she developed many approaches to teaching children how to learn that are still being used in schools and taught in universities today.

Jill has also trained with Edward de Bono at the University of Malta, and has studied for a Masters degree in Education with the University of Newcastle.

Jill now leads Challenging Learning’s pre-school and primary school consultancy. She has written many of the Challenging Learning teaching materials, has edited the others, and is currently writing 3 books for schools and 2 books for pre-schools. In amongst this she finds time to be the mother of 3 gorgeous children!

Martin Renton photo

Martin Renton

Martin Renton is Challenging Learning's Director of Consultancy and Evaluations. He is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, leader, facilitator and coach.

Martin’s excellent reputation is well earned. His core belief that professional development is not a ‘quick fix’ but a deep process of change has led to some very powerful effects in schools and colleges around the world. Teachers and leaders who have worked with Martin over an extended period of time refer to increased engagement, motivation and progress for all students.

Martin ensures that all our Challenging Learning trainers blend theories of learning with active tools for the classroom, giving teachers and leaders the opportunities to put into practice new skills and approaches. The effect can be seen most dramatically in our long-term projects around the world. The most significant of these are in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

Martin’s knowledge of pedagogy and leadership is borne out of his experiences in schools and colleges as a teacher, leader, consultant and coach. His early experiences as a nanny (2-9 year olds), then as a teacher and leader in middle schools (9-13 year olds), secondary schools (11-18 year olds) and colleges (16+) have given him a comprehensive insight into how people learn from the age of 2–adulthood. Martin uses these insights to challenge, inspire and engage his audiences.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Figures

The Challenging Learning Story

Foreword by Douglas Fisher


About the Authors



The Language of Learning

Chapter 1: Why Dialogue?

1.0 Why Dialogue?

1.1 Reasons for Dialogue 1: Learning How to Think

1.2 Reasons for Dialogue 2: From Surface to Deep

1.3 Reasons for Dialogue 3: Creating a Climate of Trust

1.4 Reasons for Dialogue 4: Developing Language to Express Understanding

1.5 Review

1.6 Next Steps

Chapter 2: Dialogue Essentials

2.0 Dialogue Basics

2.1 Putting Dialogue in the Context of Educational Objectives

2.2 The Hidden Classroom

2.3 Active Engagement

2.4 Conditions for Successful Dialogue

2.5 Language for Dialogue

2.6 Exploratory Talk

2.7 Review

2.8 Next Steps and Further Reading

Chapter 3: Dialogue to Engage Students

3.0 Preview

3.1 Getting the Ethos Right

3.2 Issuing Invitations

3.3 Encouraging and Engaging

3.4 Restating

3.5 Reformulating

3.6 Review

3.7 Next Steps and Further Reading

Chapter 4: One Way to Learn How to Think: Develop Reasoning

4.0 Preview

4.1 The Language of Reasoning

4.2 Developing the Language of Reasoning

4.3 Process of Reasoning

4.4 Routines to Develop Reasoning

4.5 Developing a Reasoning Repertoire

4.6 Reasoning Moves

4.7 Review

4.8 Next Steps

Chapter 5: Dialogue Groupings

5.0 Preview

5.1 Dialogue Groupings

5.2 Ground Rules for Dialogue Groups

5.3 Whole-Group Dialogue

5.4 Splitting Large Groups Into Two

5.5 Small-Group Dialogues With a Teacher

5.6 Small-Group Dialogues Without a Teacher

5.7 Final Word About Groupings

5.8 Review

5.9 Next Steps and Further Reading

Chapter 6: Dialogue Detectives

6.0 Preview

6.1 Appointing Dialogue Detectives

6.2 Clues to Detect: Focusing on Performance

6.3 Clues to Detect: Focusing on Thinking Structures

6.4 Other Clues to Detect

6.5 Review

6.6 Next Steps and Further Reading

Chapter 7: Dialogue Structures

7.0 Preview

7.1 Paired Dialogue

7.2 Opinion Lines

7.3 Opinion Corners

7.4 Choosing Corners

7.5 Talking Heads

7.6 Jigsaw Groups

7.7 Clustering

7.8 Review

7.9 Next Steps and Further Reading

Chapter 8: Mysteries

8.0 Preview

8.1 Mysteries

8.2 Running a Mystery

8.3 Mysteries in Practice

8.4 Questioning Cause and Effect Within Mysteries

8.5 Reviewing a Mystery Using the SOLO Taxonomy

8.6 Writing Your Own Mysteries

8.7 Review

8.8 Next Steps and Further Reading

8.9.1 Mystery: Should Bjørn Move to France?

8.9.2 Mystery: Louis Pasteur and the Anthrax Vaccine

8.9.3 Mystery: Is Sally a Good Friend?

Chapter 9: Odd One Out

9.0 Preview

9.1 Odd One Out

9.2 Benefits of Odd One Out

9.3 How to Use Odd One Out Effectively

9.4 Why and When to Use Odd One Out

9.5 Odd One Out Variations

9.6 Odd One Out Examples

9.7 Extending Odd One Out With Venn Diagrams

9.8 Review

9.9 Next Steps and Further Reading

Chapter 10: Fortune Lines

10.0 Preview

10.1 Fortune Lines

10.2 Using Fortune Lines

10.3 Fortune Line of Henry VIII

10.4 Fortune Line for a Visit to Grandma's

10.5 Review

10.6 Next Steps and Further Reading

Chapter 11: Philosophy for Children (P4C)

11.0 Preview

11.1 Philosophy for Children

11.2 The Community of Inquiry

11.3 Philosophical Questions

11.4 Dialogue Through P4C

11.5 P4C Sequence—Overview

11.6 P4C Sequence—In Depth

11.7 Review

11.8 Next Steps and Further Reading

Chapter 12: Dialogue Exercises in P4C

12.0 Preview

12.1 Dialogue Exercises

12.2 Make a Choice, Give a Reason

12.3 Concept Stretching: Fairness

12.4 Review

12.5 Next Steps and Further Reading

Appendix 1. Dialogue Detectives

Appendix 2. Louis Pasteur Script

Repertoire and Judgment Notes





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