The Importance Of A Dialogic Curriculum

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Audience and Context
The following talk will be presented to a group of educational administrators and decision makers at the DC Public Schools Central Office. This group includes the Chancellor of DC Public Schools, Chiefs of Instructional Practice and Teaching and Learning, and the Deputy Chiefs of those branches. This talk will be presented to an intentionally small audience during a round table Professional Development meeting to foster dialogic exchange between participants. This group is concerned with preparing students to graduate high school, college and career ready, with a specific knowledge and outlined set of skills. They are concerned with measuring student achievement and the logics of managing student data. They are singularly
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A set curriculum abandons the opportunity to engage deeply with diverse ideas and craft arguments to compare, critique and challenge them. Whereas a dialogic curriculum embraces such opportunities.
What is the uniqueness of a dialogic curriculum? Alexander (2008) tells us that a dialogic curriculum uniquely promotes thinking and supports learning. Unlike a set curriculum, such as the Common Core State Standards, a dialogic curriculum takes into account the unique experiences, subjectivities and voices of the participants who partake in it. Through a dialogic curriculum children receive authentic feedback from others beyond the limits of scripted teacher responses and push the boundaries of their own thinking. Wegerif (2010) affirms,
When children are given opportunities to contribute to extended classroom dialogue they can explore the limits of their own understanding. At the same time they can practice new ways of using language as a tool for thinking and learning. (p. 33)
In order to develop the ability to use language as a tool for thinking and learning, children must have authentic opportunities to practice. A dialogic curriculum provides such opportunities to students in a supportive, collaborative, challenging

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