Dr. Zwiers teaches at Stanford University, has worked for many years as a mentor in urban school settings, and trains teachers to facilitate professional learning teams that use a collaborative cycle of inquiry. He also participates in international education development efforts that promote bilingual education, critical thinking, formative assessment, and engaged learning. He has published books and articles on reading, thinking, and academic language. His most recent book is Building Academic Language: Essential Practices for Content Classrooms (2008). His current action research focus is on using academic conversations to accelerate the development of content, language, and cognitive skills in all subject areas.
He says, “Despite considerable research showing that classroom talk is vital, productive academic conversation is rare in most settings. I will share three vital components of academic language acquisition (input, output, and negotiation of meaning) and how to weave them into any lesson. I will then show ways to scaffold five key academic conversation skills with videos of paired conversations and audience participation in activities. We will conclude by discussing how to use conversations to engage, instruct, and assess students’ development of academic language, cognitive skills, and complex content understandings.”