Originally posted on Colorin Colorado by Diane Staehr Fenner on February 17, 2015

Stanford University is offering their longest-running course, Constructive Classroom Conversations: Mastering Language for College and Career Readiness, from February 18 – May 19. Registration for this latest round of the MOOC is free and available here.

The MOOC is described as such: “In this thirteen-week course taught by Kenji Hakuta, Jeff Zwiers, and Sara Rutherford-Quach from Understanding Language, educators will work individually and within teams to collect samples of student conversations, analyze language samples using the Conversation Analysis Tool (CAT), and plan instruction to foster students’ conversation skills. Participants will join an expansive online community to discuss, implement, and reflect on constructive student-to-student conversations as powerful ways to develop language, thinking, and understanding.”

We updated you about a similar Stanford MOOC in October 2014. Over 18,000 educators from around the country (as well as internationally) have enrolled in Constructive Classroom Conversations since it was piloted in the fall of 2013, and the most recent course completers report a high level of satisfaction with the course. You can read more about the kinds of feedback participants are offering from this blog postby Rita Platt, a Nationally Board Certified reading and media specialist for the St. Croix Falls School District in Wisconsin. She says,

I have watched my own students’ conversations bloom and have been able to share the knowledge I gained with teachers and schools all over the Midwest in my role as an education consultant. Watching ESL students engage one another and utter phrases like, “Can you please elaborate on your point?” Or, “What evidence do you have to support your idea?” has been simply amazing.

The kinds of changes that participants have observed in their classroom practice include:

(1) more student-centered learning and collaboration
(2) students doing more talking, with the teacher as a facilitator
(3) teachers being able to go beyond think-pair-share in providing opportunities for student conversations, and students being able to move beyond scripted, sentence-starter-based conversations, and
(4) the conversation skills leading to increased students understandings of argumentation and improved student writing.

The course began February 18th, but educators can join anytime.  If educators are interested in receiving the free Statement of Accomplishment for completing the course requirements, there is still time to register. Participants will be able to access all previous sessions regardless of when they enroll.

Readers who are particularly interested in supporting ELLs’ oral language might also wish to take a look at our latest blog post on the topic of oral academic language titled Using Pair and Group Work to Support ELLs’ Oral Language Skills, as well as our three-part series on using Socratic Circles with ELLs. 

Please let us know if you take part in the MOOC and how it affects your teaching of ELLs!