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In response to the increasing global concern over students’ writing capabilities at the secondary level, this paper shares preliminary findings from a 2019 Queensland study which explores how teachers negotiate classroom discourse to better engage and support student writers.   The conventional way that academic writing is approached in secondary schools typically fails to engage students due to its prescriptive character and reliance on closed teacher talk. Studies also indicate that teachers lack confidence regarding writing instruction (NSW Government, 2017).   With the intent of enhancing teacher capability in the writing domain, and building upon the growing international body of research which underscores the value of talk to student learning (Alexander, 2008), this paper shares early insights from a co-inquiry school-based case study that investigates the following research question:   How do three secondary school Humanities teachers think about and negotiate classroom discourse to position students as effective academic writers and thinkers?   Underpinned by a social constructivist theory of learning and socio-cognitive understanding of writing, and using a range of qualitative methods, this project closely documents the iterative collaboration of three dialogically-adept teachers as they design, implement and reflect upon the utility of student interdependent thinking as an organising principal for literacy learning.   Preliminary findings indicate that educators view accountable talk (Michaels, O’Connor & Resnick, 2008) as a useful means to develop the cognitive and metacognitive abilities of student writers. In addition, the data highlights the importance of sustained and participatory professional learning opportunities for the successful teacher uptake of new writing pedagogies. These finding have implications for how we prepare and support educators to lead literacy learning in a range of classroom contexts.

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Yael Leibovitch (Australia) 8681
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