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.