Why this approach is important

Talking and being able to talk is a key dimension to learning in classrooms. Language development and conceptual understanding are deeply linked. Thought requires language and language requires thought, but many teachers do not allow students to talk. If they did, the learning outcomes for their students would be greatly enhanced (Vygotsky, 1978).

In order for students to explore their understanding of scientific concepts (and therefore use scientific terms appropriately), they need opportunities to talk about their ideas and understanding of scientific concepts. To do this, students need help in how to speak and listen to each other effectively. Using pair work to achieve this is a good starting point for younger students because it gives them a safe and supportive context to learn in.

Pause for thought

  • Over the last two weeks in your classroom, how many times did you allow your students to talk?
  • Who did they talk with? What was the purpose of the talk?
  • How often do you let your students talk to each other about their work in class?

What you can learn in this unit

1 Planning to use pair work