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Annotated bibliography

Alexander, R. J. (2008) Towards Dialogic Teaching. Rethinking Classroom Talk (4th edition), York: Dialogos, UK.
This succinct booklet represents an overview of theoretical and empirical research into classroom talk. In the words of the blurb it, ‘presents the case for dialogic teaching not as another transient educational fad, but as the necessary outcome of decades of research on language, thinking, learning and teaching, by scholars working in diverse disciplines and cultures. The publication then sets out the principles on which dialogic teaching is based, identifies specific classroom indicators to guide the development and evaluation of professional practice, reports interim findings from classroom-based development projects, and offers suggestions for further reading and support’.

Alexander, R.J. (2008) Essays on Pedagogy, Abingdon, Routledge.
What is unusual about this book is that it places classroom talk in the wider contexts of pedagogy, curriculum and educational aims and values. The book makes a case for dialogism as an underpinning principle for all educational activity, demanding that we look outwards from the school as well as inwards at classroom processes. It is underpinned by a strong international perspective which draws on the author's comparative research on culture, pedagogy and classroom discourse.

Bakhtin, M. M. (1981) The Dialogic Imagination, Austin TX: University of Texas.

Littleton, K. and Howe, C. (2009) Educational Dialogues: Understanding and promoting productive interaction, London: Routledge.

Mercer, N. (1995) The guided construction of knowledge: talk amongst teachers and learners, Abingdon & New York: Routledge
Mercer introduces readers to the notion of knowledge as not only an ‘individual mental possession’ but a ‘joint possession’ that can be created ‘though joint mental effort’ and shared (p.1). Combining teaching and learning, he coins the phrase ‘the guided construction of knowledge’ a process mediated by language which he describes as ‘a social mode of thinking’.

Mercer, N. (2000) Words and Minds, London: Routledge.
This book explores the function of language in different contexts, including schools. Guy Cook describes it as ‘a clear and exciting introduction to language as a vehicle for collaborative thought, and an authoritative survey of research taking this view. [...] it is full of original and exciting insights of its own, making it one of the most important books on discourse analysis to have been published in the last decade’.

Mortimer, E.F. and Scott, P.H. (2003) Meaning Making in Secondary Science Classrooms, Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Swaffield, S (Ed) Unlocking Assessment: Understanding for reflection and application, London & New York: Routledge.
A number of chapters explore the links between questioning, dialogue and assessment practices associated with ‘assessment as learning’.

Wolfe, S. and Alexander, R. J. (2008) Argumentation and dialogic teaching: alternative pedagogies for a changing world, London: Futurelab Download from