Thursday, April 28, 2011

A year long focus

As previously noted, we have changed our focus for our project. Earlier this year, we looked at research focused on the importance of early exposure and an intense focus on writing. Since then we have done more whole group lessons focused on rhyming throughout the year instead of one condensed unit. After a midyear assessment, we have been pulling small intervention groups focused on rhyming.
Because of this intervention and continued focus, I have seen great improvements. I have also noticed a few things about my learners. Second language learners in particular. So often when we start whole group rhyming activities, we begin with pictures of vocabulary words that are over the second language learners heads. I found it so helpful to familiarize them with the vocab before the activities.
We found several smart board activities on smart exchange. Many give one word and a whole long list of others to weed through to find the rhyming match. For these learners who are still struggling with this task, it helped to narrow it down to two choices instead of a long list. These were little things but they have helped.
Soon, I want to do a repeat of the midyear assessment we did to see what effect these activities have had. I think we will see great improvements in these children.

Monday, March 14, 2011

new focus

Today two of us met to discuss our Chatterbox Project. We decided to create a new focus for our blog. We are going to look at our kiddos' rhyming abilities. We recently gave a rhyming common assessment to our students, so we figured we would use the data from that assessment as a starting point for this project. The assessment gave us some great information about our kids' abilities to create rhymes and identify rhymes.
We decided to use a variety of rhyming lessons with our students over the next few weeks, and then assess our students again on rhyming right before spring break. Hopefully our lessons will help them to improve in this area!
We decided to use the SmartBoard for our rhyming lessons this week. The kids love using the SmartBoard, so hopefully they will be engaged and excited about the lessons.
Please stay tuned to find out how it's going!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Places to encourage oral language development

On the way to work today I found myself thinking about the Chatterbox Project and all the different places embedded in the day where we can work with our children to improve/enhance/practice their oral language.

  • Morning work, unpack, routines, initial welcome into the classroom
  • Morning meeting- giving a structured script of how to formally greet someone, encouraging eye contact
  • Writing Workshop- Oral story telling, listening to retelling of their written stories
  • Reading Workshop- Discussing and retelling stories
  • Snack- Scaffolding how they chat with their peers and with us
  • Math- coaching how they play math games, faciliate turn-taking, and encouraging them to explain their thinking using full sentences
  • Science/Social Studies- encouraging full sentences, retelling of events and facts, teaching vocabulary
  • Free play/recess- encouraging peer conversation, teaching and encouraging them to practice using vocabulary, prompting positive social interactions.

Monday, November 8, 2010


As a username, I have chosen Lily as in Lily the mouse from the wonderful Kevin Henkes books. I'm hoping to create chatterboxes in our classroom, just like Lily:) I am very excited about this focused study we are doing.
As stated above, we are all looking at the development of our students oral language skills this year, hoping to improve their communication with their peers and teachers. We also hope this will improve their storytelling in writing and reading.
My focus will be answering wh questions. To begin, I will take a small group and study how they are currently answering these questions. Are they giving one to two word answers, sentences and phrases, or are they completely off topic. Then I will take this data, and plan ways we can increase the length of our answers, or stay on topic.
I look forward to seeing progress! More to come later.

The beginning... developing a question

This year for Literacy Collaborative three of us are working on an independent project, examining ways we can foster and improve oral language development in our kindergarten classrooms.

Currently we are in the process of observing how our students use language. I am specifically looking at how our students communicate with each other and with us, how they use language in academics and does how they use language with one another relate how they use language academically.
Partner-in-crime is looking at how our students answer oral questions, to determine if they give one to two word answers, and if their answers are on topic, answering the question appropriately.

I'm curious about how children use language with their peers and how that transfers to their academic language because I see so many of them with different oral language abilities in their conversational settings. Most children are able to build off of their strong understanding of oral language in order to learn to read and write. Many of the children I work with who have special needs have goals addressing how they use oral language to communicate with their peers.

I want to observe my students during "down time" like snack, networking, playing with blocks, free choice and recess to see how they are using language with one another. I'm also going to pay attention to how they use language during writing workshop with oral story telling. I'm going to compare students' oral language abilities with their DRA2 WA scores.

Today I prompted a small discussion during snack between one of my kiddos who struggles with oral language. He does not ever initiate conversation with peers or adults, but is far more successful having conversations with adults than with peers. Today I prompted him and a peer through what turned out to be a very painful conversation about what they ate for snack (one had a banana), what they knew about bananas, who else eats bananas (monkeys), etc. The children needed prompts to attend to one another's comments, and to respond in a turn-taking pattern.