: Part two | Making Talk Work Luca Owenbridge completes his two part blog examining specific EEF models: Accountable Talk and Metacognitive Self-Talk.


Part two | Making Talk Work

Luca Owenbridge completes his two part blog examining specific EEF models: Accountable Talk and Metacognitive Self-Talk.

by Cornwall Research School
on the

Missed part one blog of Making Talk Work? Click here to read.

Luca HS

Luca Owenbridge

Deputy Director of Cornwall Research School

Luca is a History and Maths teacher. He came to teaching after working as a Policy Analyst for the Department for Education in London. Click here to read more.

Read more aboutLuca Owenbridge

Accountable Talk

Perhaps unsurprisingly, quality of talk is more important than quantity in a classroom and the EEF suggest we should focus our attention in two areas: structure of talk, and variety of talk. One effective method for structuring students’ talk is the Accountable Talk’ model. The model has three strands.

KS 3 4 Lit Figure 6 Accountable Talk

Knowledge – Talk allows us to focus on encouraging students to be accurate and/​or true. This prompts explicit subject knowledge development and permits the addressing of misconceptions.

To do this effectively we can -

•Model how to form effective arguments in a given discipline
•Show how to look for appropriate resources to validate arguments
•Provide authentic tasks with knowledge rich resources

Reasoning – Talk allows us to push students to justify claims and rationalise opinions. Talking is an essential part of thinking, and we can use this drive towards reasoning to familiarise students with how to reason in different subjects. Reasoning is often subject specific. In a history lesson we might encourage a student to draw on quotes from other historians or sources, in RE we might want personal or ethical reasoning and in Maths we might expect quantitative reasoning. Some students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, may not pick up these subtilties implicitly and so teaching them explicitly is crucial.

Further examples of teacher practice are –

Ask students to elaborate and scaffold this
Highlight the reasoning process (“if this…, therefore that…”)
Elicit different solutions from students
Provide suitable wait time and show the value of this wait time

Community – Central to making talk accountable is its communal aspect. Talk in a vacuum is ineffectual. This aspect emphasises that all students’ contributions matter. This looks like, listening to others and showing respect. It is effective because its approach can be curriculum wide for schools, making students kinder, calmer and more measured talkers.

To embed this teachers could –

•Distribute responsibility and participation for a task
•Structure thinking as a class before independent thought and talking
•Model the clarification and verification of students’ statements
•Explicitly value their errors

Metacognitive Self-Talk

All of this supports the view that structured talk can be a Metacognitive process for students. If they reflect on where their reasoning may be lacking, or the strategies they might use to answer a similar question more effectively in the future they think about their thinking and help others to do so too.

Bisra et al highlight what they call Self-Explanation’ in a meta-analysis which suggests that asking students to verbally reflect and ask themselves questions about what they are studying can be effective.4How does this pair of simultaneous equations compare to others I have solved?’ or How is this source different from others I have studied from the Battle of the Somme?’. There is promising evidence that this verbal Metacognitive reflection aids understanding and retention, although the EEF is clear that more studies would be valuable looking at the medium- and long-term effects.

The Classroom

The source suggests that caravans of merchants travelled over 3000 miles across Europe and Asia’. Summarising, a partner B suggests the Silk Road merchants must have had powerful cars to pull their caravans across the desert.

Addressing a misconception, I can assure them that these are not the caravans of their imagination, but rather that they have discovered the much more ancient root of that word.

Explaining the Morphology and Etymology of the word, we look at pictures of the ruins of Caravanserai (inns built to house weary travellers) and the students pass another stop on their journey to better literacy.


3Resnick, L., Asterhan, C. and Clarke, S. (2018). Accountable Talk: Instructional Dialogue that Builds the Mind. Educational Practices Series. [online] The International Academy of Education and the International Bureau of Education. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/p… Accountable_​Talk_​Instructional_​dialogue_​that_​builds_​the_​mind [Accessed 16 Nov. 2019].

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