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.