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Alternative responses to students

Declarative statements

Respond to a student’s comment with a declarative statement. For example, “But our photographs show that no life has been found on Mars.” This statement doesn’t evaluate the student’s comment; it does give the student data to consider in relation to her comment. In some research, students learn to offer longer and more elaborate responses as a result.

Reflective statements

Respond to a student’s comment by stating your understanding of what was said. For example, “So you think that the reason she meant so much to other children in Japan is because her death was caused by an atomic bomb.” In some research, students tend to elaborate and clarify their comments as a result.

Reports of state of mind

Respond to a student’s comment by reporting your own true state of mind. For example, “I kind of understand what you are saying, but I’m not sure what you meant when you said... ”  In some research, students tend to elaborate and clarify their comments as a result.

Student questioning

Ask students to pose their own questions about the matter at hand, or about whatever has been said so far. In some research, children tend to respond more elaborately to each other’s questions than to the teacher’s questions.

*Constructed from proposals in Mazzoni, S.I.,  & Gambrell, L.B. (1996). Text talk: Using discussion to promote comprehension in information texts. In L.B. Gambrell & J.M. Almasi (Eds.),  Lively Discussions: Fostering engaged reading (pp. 134-148). Newark, Delaware: International Reading Association.