It is said that learning floats on a sea of talk. So how can schools build systems, processes, and strategies to make sure students develop powerful word knowledge over time? Robbie Burns advises

In 1976, Douglas Barnes famously said that “Learning floats on a sea of talk.” Although I don’t think this is wrong, there are many steps that learning needs to take before it is even on the water.

Students must be able to speak, using full sentences including words that convey their meaning. Next they must understand what has been said by their peers, process the words they are using and then respond. And this is only in peer-to-peer conversation. What about when a teacher is explaining new content? A student must understand the words being said, process them for the meaning they are trying to convey, and then apply the learning to long-term memory.

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