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8.2: Effective Verbal Communication

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  • Communicating effectively requires using all forms of classroom talk in combinations appropriate for particular utterances and interactions. In various places earlier in this book, we have suggested ways of doing so, though in those places we usually did not frame the discussion around the term communication as such.

    Effective content talk

    In Chapter 8, for example, we suggested ways of talking about content so that it is most likely to be understood clearly, but in that chapter we described these as instructional strategies. In explaining ideas, for example, whether briefly or as a extended lecture, we pointed out that it helps to offer, in advance, organizing ideas, to relate new content to prior knowledge, and to organize and elaborate on new information. In the same chapter, we also suggested strategies about content talk intended for students, so that students understand their own thinking as well as possible. We especially highlighted two ways of learning: inquiry learning and cooperative learning. Table 8 summarizes instructional strategies both for students and for teachers, and indicates how they contribute to effective verbal communication about content.



    Table 19: Major strategies of effective procedural and control talk

    These strategies are also discussed in Chapter 7 as features of classroom management, rather than of communication. Note, too, that the difference between procedural and content talk is arbitrary to some extent; in many situations one kind of talk serves the needs of the other kind.


    Effective procedural and control talk

    In addition to communicating about content, teachers need to communicate procedures and expectations about appropriate classroom behavior. In Chapter 7 we described quite a few ways to communicate with students about these matters, though, in that chapter we did not refer to them as methods of communication, but as methods of classroom management, of creating a positive learning environment, and of resolving conflicts in the class. Table 19 summarizes several of the major strategies described in that chapter.) By framing communication in these ways, we called attention to their importance as forms of communication. As we pointed out, procedural talk and control talk matter are used in teaching simply because clear procedures and appropriate classroom behavior are necessary students are to learn.