Cultivating Learner Discourse


This toolkit brings much-needed clarity on how to honor the dignity of all participants as they engage in meaningful and informed deliberations, discussions, and debates. It can be a challenge to examine curricular critical issues and topics with students, elicit learners’ thinking, and withhold your need to intervene when the discourse becomes emotionally charged. We provide step-by-step guidance that elevates students’ roles in designing, managing, and assessing discourse.

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How might we deepen learner conversations through leveraging discourse as an essential part of learning?

This toolkit offers strategies and resources to help all learners share their perspectives, critically evaluate evidence, question reasoning processes, and engage in collaborative conversation.

Within each P&P, one or two paragraphs clarify the rationale as to why this practice or process is valuable for engaging your learners. We then identify targeted Connections to The Framework to make it more manageable and actionable so that the four attributes, elements of personalized learning and Habits of Mind can be explicitly taught and learned. In addition, we have included connections to SEL competencies.


1. Designing Considerations to Organize and Clarify Discourse

This process guides how you might identify powerful opportunities for learner discourse through the examination of your curriculum.

2. Justifying and Positioning Discourse in Your Curriculum

This two-part process focuses on how to prepare learners to engage with the driving questions and how to situate the discourse within your curriculum.

3. Growing Readiness and Agency in Learner Discourse

In this practice, we focus on three parts to manage meaningful engage for inclusive discourse.

4. Assessing the Learner’s Role in Discourse

This self-assessment practice provides a tool to support four ways of engaging in discourse: reflects, observes, participates, and invests.


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