Challenging Learning Through Dialogue

Strategies to Engage Your Students and Develop Their Language of Learning

James Nottingham, Jill Nottingham and Martin Renton (2016)

“Challenging Learning Through Dialogue is inspiring, insightful, and a MUST read for all educators. It provides educators with meaningful, purposeful, and practical strategies to create high quality dialogue. Underpinned by extensive educational research, these methods will help students achieve deep level thinking and learning through the power of our language. Absolutely Brilliant!”
Sophie Murphy, Lecturer & Researcher, Science of Learning Research Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, Australia

Highlights of the book include:
  • Recommendations for increasing the quality of student talk so as to deepen learning
  • Techniques to facilitate high-quality dialogue that encourages students to take more ownership of their learning, share their thinking and form reasoned – and reasonable – opinions
  • Guidance on creating the right conditions for truly exploratory dialogue to flourish, encouraging learners to become more open, more collaborative and more reflective
  • Dialogue structures including thinking corners, talking heads, jigsaw groups, and think-write-share-compare
  • How to focus dialogue on key concepts to that learning is more transferable
  • Metacognitive strategies to help students reflect on how they learn as well as what they have been learning
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“This book what the world needs now. It is a must for teachers and families who wish to have their children learn to think and communicate with greater precision and clarity. Filled with rich background information, myriad protocols, practical learning strategies, and vivid examples, this book can teach us all how to listen more attentively and to communicate more thoughtfully.”
Arthur L. Costa Professor Emeritus International Institute for Habits of Mind

This book what the world needs now. It is a must for teachers and families who wish to have their children learn to think and communicate with greater precision and clarity. Filled with rich background information, myriad protocols, practical learning strategies, and vivid examples, this book can teach us all how to listen more attentively and to communicate more thoughtfully.”

Arthur L. Costa Professor Emeritus International Institute for Habits of Mind

What makes this book different?

Classroom dialogue has a major effect on student learning. In fact, dialogue is one of the best vehicles for learning how to think, make moral decisions, and understand another person’s point of view. This book shows you how, using the best ways to develop the language of reasoning; group students for effective dialogue; restate and reformulate to increase active listening; and extend thinking and understanding. The dialogue structures and the pedagogical recommendations within the book work across the curriculum and with students aged 3-19 and beyond.

Book Features

As Arthur Schopenhauer once said, “Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them in: but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents.” With that in mind, Challenging Learning Through Dialogue has several features to help navigate the book, including:

  • Margin notes with summaries of content and key points
  • Section numbers to support navigation and cross-referencing (they also remain constant – unlike page numbers – when the book is translated into other languages)
  • ‘Now Try This’ sections to guide and support professional learning

Intended Audience

Suitable for teachers, leaders and support staff working with students between the ages of 7-19. For those working with 3-7-year-old children, you would be better reading ‘Challenging Early Learning’ by James Nottingham and Jill Nottingham (2017).

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"This book reminds teachers of the power of dialogue to develop deeper learning. It provides a ground-breaking framework with specific strategies teachers can use as they move students toward deeper understanding through dialogue."
John Spencer, Assistant Professor, George Fox University, Portland OR
"James Nottingham & his colleagues have masterfully explained what dialogue is and how to use it in the classroom through powerful strategies. They show how to engage students in deep thinking and understanding. The myriad of examples brings the strategies to life. It is an excellent book.”
Tracy Shiel, Corwin Author/Consultant, Walla Walla, WA, Australia
"Challenging Learning Through Dialogue is filled with practical advice and important activities that will help increase dialogue in classrooms! It is a wonderful resource book offering educators the best possible guidance for taking students into the Learning Pit.”
Peter DeWitt, Author/Consultant, Albany NY
"This book is a great tool for educators interested in making dialogue work in the classroom. It is really clear and easy to follow with sample dialogue structures that teachers can use and examples to follow. I recommend it for individual educators, teams, districts."
Kara Vandas, Corwin Author/Consultant, Castle Rock CO

This book reminds teachers of the power of dialogue to develop deeper learning. It provides a ground-breaking framework with specific strategies teachers can use as they move students toward deeper understanding through dialogue.”

John Spencer, Assistant Professor, George Fox University, Portland OR

James Nottingham & his colleagues have masterfully explained what dialogue is and how to use it in the classroom through powerful strategies. They show how to engage students in deep thinking and understanding. The myriad of examples brings the strategies to life. It is an excellent book.”

Tracy Shiel, Corwin Author/Consultant, Walla Walla, WA, Australia

Challenging Learning Through Dialogue is filled with practical advice and important activities that will help increase dialogue in classrooms! It is a wonderful resource book offering educators the best possible guidance for taking students into the Learning Pit.”

Peter DeWitt, Author/Consultant, Albany NY

This book is a great tool for educators interested in making dialogue work in the classroom. It is really clear and easy to follow with sample dialogue structures that teachers can use and examples to follow. I recommend it for individual educators, teams, districts.”

Kara Vandas, Corwin Author/Consultant, Castle Rock CO

Related Links

How Dialogue Deepens Learning

Research Evidence About the Impact of Dialogue

Consultancy to Help You Develop Classroom Talk

Ways to Enhance Dialogue with 3-7-year-olds

Related Links