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A Participative Webinar with Daniela Merklinger

Daniela is a professor of Primary Education at the PH Ludwigsburg – School of Education, Germany. Her thinking about dialogue has grown out of her experience in three different settings: 1) her years teaching primary school students in the classroom, 2) her current work teaching university students who are themselves preparing to be primary school teachers, and 3) her research into the role of dialogue in both settings.

Daniela builds on international research that indicates that talk in schools is seldom dialogic, rather it is dominated by teachers speaking and students attempting to provide responses that the teacher will view as correct.

She researches how dialogue, about literary (picture) books read out loud to a class, can be structured in a way that children can become involved in the text and at the same time become aware of the literary dimensions of the text. She has published books and articles on the acquisition of written language, the development of textual competence and transitions between orality and writtenness.

At the university Daniela teaches classes on dialogue and leads dialogues with university students on a regular basis. In her classes university students make transcripts of the dialogues they have had with children in primary-schools or kindergartens, then reflect on their own conversational behavior, often discovering that they acted very different from what they thought.

Daniela notes, “If we want to reach children, if we want to understand what they are interested in, if we want to understand how they think –dialogue may be one way to achieve this goal. And it may be a way to enable children to become citizens that take responsibility in our democracy. Changing the way communication works in schools may be a starting point for dialogue in society.”

During the webinar your cohosts, Nancy Dixon and Linda Ellinor, will interview Daniela to provide an overview of her thinking. We will then move participants into small groups for reflection on Daniela’s interview and how her experience has meaning in our lives and work with dialogue. To close our time we will comeback together with questions and reflections from our small groups.

For those who want to read ahead, you can view a paper of Daniela’s here.

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