Last week while watching the Today show for a few minutes one morning, I was touched by the story of 11-year-old Dalton Sherman who gave the convocation speech at the start of the year for the Dallas Independent School District (DISD). What an amazing child! Watch his speech on YouTube and you will be inspired!
I believe that we should develop our children’s oral language. That language is the foundation of all reading and writing they will do in their years at school and beyond. Language is a powerful tool.
I like to begin by allowing children to talk at school! When I was a child, a quiet classroom was a good classroom. We were expected to sit and listen for most of the day. Today’s students need opportunities to talk with each other and with us. I believe in teaching children to do “buddy talk,” turning and talking to a partner about what they are thinking at selected times in a lesson I’m teaching. Then I have several of them share with the class what they discussed.
They also use this technique while working at literacy and math work stations. During small group instruction, I sometimes teach oral language lessons. To view a lesson like this, see the clip called “Pre-Emergent Readers” from my new video series, Think Small! Engaging Our Youngest Readers in Small Groups.
We use a familiar book from read aloud and have children in the small group take turns retelling the story. My goal is to have them use more sophisticated vocabulary and longer, more complex sentences each time they retell it. It can also be used in a work station for practice once I’ve taught with it.
What are you doing in your classroom this week to build your students’ oral language?