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Posts Tagged ‘oral language’

Do you remember the touching story of 11-year-old Dalton Sherman who gave a convocation speech at 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?

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 At the request of the PreK-5 district language arts director, Joni McEvoy, I recently presented several days on word study for back-to-school training in Humble ISD. For the past 10-12 years, I’ve been a huge fan of Donald Bear and Shane Templeton, both of whom I’ve had the privilege to study with. I’ve also studied phonological awareness and oral language in depth and have written about these topics in my book, Making the Most of Small Groups.

In Humble ISD, I walked teachers through developmental word study, using the developmental spelling continuum found in the book, Words Their Way. My roots are in child development, and I always find it easier to know how to teach if I can wrap my head around the stages of development for whatever the area is—reading, writing, word study, oral language, math, etc.

Many teachers spent 2-3 days with me, delving deeply into why kids spell like they do (and what we can do about it as teachers)! This area has fascinated me for many years. My daughter was a struggling speller as a young child, and Bear and his colleagues helped me understand how to help her.

We did all kinds of word sorts, including concept sorts (or sorts focused on meanings of words, rather than spellings). The brain is a pattern-seeker, so kids love word sorting. Some of the teachers created sorts for social studies to use as a pre-assessment to see what kids know about the topics they will teach in the fall. They’ll begin with open sorts (having kids sort the words however they want, and then explaining to the class why they sorted like they did). What an engaging way to see what their students know!

Teachers sort words ending in –ant and –ent and look for spelling patterns

Colleagues look at last year’s data using Bear’s Spelling Inventory to determine where to begin teaching this year

Concept sorts made by teachers to use early in the year for pre-assessment in social studies

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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?

Read Full Post »