Increase Language Coming Back to School

I love to hear “chitter chattering” as I walk through the halls of my school. I love to hear the excited hum of students when they are passionately sharing ideas and even the slow lull when a student is thinking and trying to make sense of an idea. These sounds of children sharing and thinking remind me that learning is taking place and that students are formulating new ideas from the information they were presented.  Learning does not fully take place until an idea is taken, processed and extended or applied in some form.

In a blog last year entitled:  Why Student Talk Matters ,  I stated the following:  The speaking and listening piece allows our students to access the difficult text by having support while they process and think.  This shows the power of Language. We use the word “Language” often and what we mean by that is the communication of thoughts including reading and writing.  Listening and speaking are vehicles in which our students gain skills to read and write.  They must master one while learning a topic before they tackle the next. We know when we are teaching something difficult such as electricity, our students must listen to gain knowledge, talk about it so that they can process the information and then read about it.  Continuing discussion and processing helps students have the vocabulary necessary to write. If our students can write about a topic–they understand it. Each of these four domains (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing) are interrelated and interact and affect one another–summation—these are reciprocal.

Our English as Second Language students rarely participate in conversations about academics, ideas and knowledge. Low socioeconomic families do not ask students to justify ideas, provide evidence, articulate positive or negatives.  This is only happening in our classrooms.  The more our classrooms are filled with academic discussions that require student to use and apply knowledge we are increasing their vocabulary and helping student to connect and own their learning.

Here are 6 simple ideas to infuse Language and “Student Talk” into your classrooms as you go back to school.

Idea #1: Throw and Answer

Learning to answer and formulate ideas into complete sentences helps students when they begin writing.

  1. Throw a ball to a student and ask a question about anything just to get to know them and practice using complete senteces.
  2. Student answers back in a complete sentence.
  3. If student does not restate question or cannot remember the question, they must sit down for three ball tosses.

*No winner to this game but a fun way to practice listening and speaking expectations.

 

Idea #2:   Play “Get to Know You BINGO.”

  1. Students move around the room asking other students the questions on the Bingo Board.
  2. Student must restate the question and answer the question for the student. Then they sign the box of the question they answered.
  3. All boxes are filled in to finish.
  4. Offering a prize for completion is always fun.

See Bingo Board Example here:  Bingo Board

 

Idea #3:  Read Aloud

  1. Read aloud a book which is above the reading level of the class to expose them to rich vocabulary.
  2. When you come to a great vocabulary word—stop—ask—What do you think this means?
  3. Reread the sentence. Have student turn and talk about what they think the word means and why.
  4. Discuss whole group.

 

Idea #4:  Act Out the Rules

  1. Divide students into the number of groups to correlate to the number of rules that you have.
  2. Give each group a rule.
  3. Give them 10 minutes to produce a skit to teach the rule to the class.
  4. Set the timer.
  5. Have each group present their skit.
  6. Have the audience turn and talk after each skit to put the rule in “their own words.”
  7. Discuss the rule in whole group and have several students rephrase the rule in their own words to solidify thinking.
  8. Have students turn and talk to each share an example of why this rule is important.
  9. Discuss whole group.
  10. Continue with next Skit until all are complete.

 

Idea #5:  Sing a Song/Rap about Safety

  1. After reading or discussing the safety procedures, have students create a song or rap to tell others what to do for that safety situation (Tornado, Lock In, Fire, etc.)
  2. Give students 10-15 minutes to work. Encourage them to brainstorm ideas and then put it to the tune of a song they know.
  3. Stop students after given time and tell them they have 5 minutes to “practice” for show time.
  4. Have each group perform their song.
  5. Have students turn and talk to share the most important detail that they learned and why it is important.
  6. Discuss whole group.

 

Idea #6 Character Trait Hunt

  1. Put a character trait on an index card or half sheet of paper for each student.
  2. Put this word on each child’s back.
  3. The students walk around and as they meet one another—they have to either verbally explain or act out the word on the child’s back but they cannot use the vocabulary word.
  4. After about 10-15 minutes, each child will be paired with a partner to “guess” their word and explain why they think that. The person cannot tell them if they are correct or not but can respond with another explanation or “act out.”
  5. Put students with a different partner and repeat
  6. Let students look at their word.
  7. They should write their name on the back of the card and a real world example of the word.

Character Trait List from Read Write Think

Optional:  Pair students to share their examples or discuss whole group.

Remember language is the vehicle in which we gain knowledge.  Take time to let students talk and do not “steal their discovery.”  Letting go of some control and letting students speak can be scary but the results will be worth it.  Students who are struggling need 100 exposures to a concept before it “sticks.” We have to let them express what they know so we can see if it has truly “stuck.”

HAPPY FIRST WEEK OF SCHOOL!

 

Why Student “TALK” Matters?

After receiving our Curriculum Visit feedback, I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring up the importance of student collaboration and discussion in our classroom across content areas.  You have heard it repeatedly….but do you understand WHY?  I didn’t!  So, I want to share what I have learned on my journey of understanding how “language” plays into our classroom instructional tool box.

toolbox2To set the stage, you need to keep in mind that there were three ELA “Shifts” in thinking with the new Common Core Standards.  The first was Balancing Informational Text with Literature which immerses our students into rich content vocabulary that require background knowledge or the ability to break down meaning from the text.  The second shift was that student Speaking, Reading and Writing would be grounded in text evidence.  By interacting with text repeatedly, our students are exploring the text at a deeper level through analyzing and synthesizing ideas or evaluating the ideas of others.  The final shift was to interact with complex text and Academic Language.   The words complex and academic probably jumped out at you!  By looking at these shifts, you can begin to see how important it is for us as teachers to scaffold learning so that our students can be successful as readers of complex text.  What does this scaffolding look like?

 

  • Modeling which uses LISTENING
  • Read Aloud which uses  LISTENING
  • Think Pair Share (collaborative work) which uses SPEAKING AND LISTENING
  • Activate Prior Knowledge which uses SPEAKING AND LISTENING
  • Realia/Primary Documents/Graphic Organizers MOST EFFECTIVE WITH LISTENING, SPEAKING, READING AND WRITING
  • Questioning (Text Dependent) which use LISTENING, SPEAKING, READING AND WRITING
  • Rereading  which use SPEAKING AND READING (SOMETIMES WRITING IF NOTE TAKING)

When you look at popular scaffolding strategies you see that they are embedding listening and speaking in each one. Even primary documents and graphic organizers are most effective when you pair them with speaking.  The speaking and listening piece allows our students to access the difficult text by having support while they process and think.  This shows the power of Language. We use the word “Language” often and what we mean by that is the communication of thoughts including reading and writing.  Listening and speaking are vehicles in which our students gain skills to read and write so they must master one while learning a topic before they tackle the next. We know when we are teaching something difficult such as electricity, our students must listen to gain knowledge, talk about it so that they can process the information, begin to read about it while talking to continue process and finally writing about it. If our students can write about a topic–they understand it. Each of these four domains (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing) are interrelated and interact and affect one another–summation—these are reciprocal.

I read an article from Cornell University which highlighted collaborative learning as not just peer learning in groups and partners but extending to peer instruction where students are working together to help one another figure out problems and explain ideas in a student friendly language.  It explains that there are great benefits of collaborative learning including and increase in self esteem,  helping students see different perspectives from their own, increase in higher order thinking and oral communication.  The article showcased several teaching strategies which are worthy of checking out.  One I thought was interesting, was called a Fishbowl debate where students sit in groups of three and you assign them roles for a debate. Two people take opposing sides and the third person is the note taker and decides which debate is most compelling.  There are many ideas included in the article–bookmark it for a rainy day!

Also, the 40 Ways to Read Like a Detective resource created by NCDPI, is a great resource to help you scaffold instruction for your students and to infuse the four domains of language into your lessons. I will put a link to these in the resource section of this article.

In closure, by focusing on Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing as you teach and learning to move in and out of these domains while your students are learning–you are scaffolding instruction AND building conceptual understanding in your students.  It is talking that helps humans communicate and process ideas–so, my challenge to you this month is to make sure that in each lesson you have provided time for students to listen–speak to you and one another about what they are learning and reading.  When we are faculty meetings or professional development, we want to talk about things we are learning.  How often do we stop listening to the speaker to lean over and tell our neighbor our connection or idea about what he/she is saying. Our students are the same and need time to process their ideas.  As an added benefit, our students need extra opportunities to speak to one another because they do not get conversational language at home. They do not have background on how to ask good questions, how to follow up on a statement from someone else, how to disagree politely, etc.  So, check out the resources below and try something new out.

 

RESOURCES FOR YOU TO CHECK OUT

Kagan-Strategies-Desk-Mats  Conversational Group Work Mat for your desks. Remember that I shared a folder of several varieties of these in drive.

Capture This is an example of a SENTENCE FRAME I found. What a great way to help our students get their thoughts together. There are frames for inferences, comparing, contrasting, etc.  2012 all strategies 35 pages sentence frames

sentence starters for reader response (Sentence Frames for Reading and responding to text)

AccountableTalkFeaturesandLanguageStems  (Sentence starters for group work)

Accountable Talk Tool Kit (LOTS of resources here)

Text Structures with Graphic Organizers

40 Ways to Read Like a Detective

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subscribe By Email

Get a weekly email of all new posts.

Please prove that you are not a robot.

Skip to toolbar