Adapting the Receptive Oral Language Assessment for the French Language context: Project C.O.P.E

Over the past 6 months I have been working with a fabulous team of educators from the French Language School Boards of Ontario in conjunction with Unité de la littératie et de la numératie, Direction des politiques et programmes d’éducation en langue française Ministère de l’Éducation, Ontario and GIARE.CA . Project C.O.P.E  is designed to research and develop a French language version of the Receptive Oral Language Assessment (Crévola, 2008) and  implement and adapt the Crévola approach to Oral Langauge instruction in kindergarten French Language schools. It is interesting to consider the statistics of French language speakers in Canada and the history of the language to understand my interest in this project.

The project is now in Phase 1 (Sept 2012 – June 2013) with funding to develop the assessment and to run a small trial in a sample of schools. This is currently underway and I have been so impressed with the dedication and professionalism  of the educators involved. There was a job to be done, developing the French sentence types, the group assigned to this task just jumped in a gave it their best shot. I was not involved directly in this development aspect, but supported from afar and guided their process. They did all the work. A prototype was developed and then came the crunch, a linguist was needed to validate the sentence types. This was a learning curve for all. But everyone was willing to take the feedback and the resulting changes. Congratulations to the team, who demonstrated superb reflective practice and showed us all that when we work as a team of reflective practitioners we can achieve more than one or two people alone. The development team engaged in a process that took courage and a willingness to expose their beliefs and understandings, and to allow them to be challenged.

The OÉAL  (Outil d’évaluation des acquis langagiers) has been born!  We are now collecting the data from the first round of assessment in the sample classes and we are all excited to look at the implications from the assessment data.

Our next steps are to develop the French Language versions of The  4 Oral Language Teaching Foci and Oral Language Teaching Prompts  and the Oral Language Teaching Strategies (Crévola, 2009). This is proposed to be C.O.P.E Phase 2 (sept 2013 – June 2014).

The other aspect of this work that is different to my previous research work in SIP (The Self Identification Project ) in Ontario and other research pieces in Australia, the USA and UK, is the use of Web-based tools to promote the Professional Learning opportunities for those involved. This is proving to be both economically viable and easily assessable. Going down this road means that I can be based in France and yet connected to the educators in the field in Ontario, via the interactive wed-based services that are being developed. This has a huge economic impact and it allows the money available to go directly to the school based work in the classrooms rather than the extraordinary amounts of money for teacher release and air fares and accommodation. The need for face-to-face exists when it comes to teaching and implementing strategies to improve learning for all, this is a challenge in restricted budgets, but these are areas that we are working on as we move to establish a foundational set of tools and practices that can be replicated in the wider French Language context.

I will be sharing more later, but I wanted to express my admiration of the project C.O.P.E educators and administrators and share my excitement in being a part of this amazing learning journey.

Merci beaucoup  team.  C.O.P.E

 

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Back on the Road Again

Well at last I am moving back into work mode, slowly but surely!

I made the decision in May 2012 to take some time out. Time to move back to Provence with my husband Dr Pater Hill and to our lovely old village home in the mountains of Alpes des Haute.  I had spent the previous 7 months with Peter in Australia while he finished as CEO of the Australia Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Agency. This time was spent indulging myself as ‘grandma’ with my three amazing grandsons, Angus, aged 5 yrs (Nov); Edward; aged 3 years (Aug) and Jacob aged 2 yrs (Nov). I had the boys to myself for weeks at a time, and what a joy it was. So much learning for me on many levels but, the oral language journey ways so enlightening as I watched and participated in the three distinct language development levels of the boys. I spent most weekends with them, my son and his wife and Peter as we enjoyed the family time that is not a constant for us.

Peter and I arrived back in Provence and the long summer commenced. If you have never experienced a long Provençal summer, then it is hard to imagine how 7 months can just melt away in a simple mountain village. But let me tell you it can and it does!  I have spent long hot days languishing in our garden in the ‘oliviers’ (olive terraces). I have worked in the hot sun  picking amazing vegetables and fruit and slaving over a hot stove while canning and preserving. I have spent hours and hours in the cuisine (kitchen) on our top floor overlooking the beautiful Var River valley. I have baked and eaten, far too many yummy fresh apricot tarts! Early mornings and late evenings spent going for long walks in beautiful ash and oak forests and taking cold crisp swims in the small ‘brec’ (lake) near our village. Too many lazy mornings spent chatting (in very bad french) to the locals, as we all gathered around the boulangerie and the cafe for the obligatory baguette and espresso to start the day!

In the midst of all of this has been my journey of learning a second language -FRENCH- Oh the pain!! I am struggling through my life day in and day out, striving to gain meaning from those around me and to make meaning for those around me.  I am living and breathing my theory of language acquisition and meaning making. I am experiencing the pain of the child/student who struggles to make their meaning understood and, who longs to express the thoughts running wild in their mind. I am caught in a world of confusion at times and sheer mystery as to what is going on, even though I can hear perfectly well and I have ideas and thoughts in my mind. The problem is that they are no longer coherent and clear as I have to ‘think’ in another language.

This existence in a new language culture makes me ponder the life of the child/student for whom language acquisition is hard (be it their first language or a second language).  For the second language learner who is fluent in their first language (such as myself), the strength lies in the fact that you know that you are capable of creating meaning and understanding meaning in your first language. You are struggling and frustrated in the second language, but you can fall back on the first language to at least console yourself that you have the ability to think clearly in that language. But, for the child/student who does not have that well established foundation of a first language, the learning  must be so terribly confusing and frustrating. There is no possible way that I can ‘think’ in french if I did not have any language skills to fall back on. I still struggle to ‘think’ in french, but I can ‘think’ in English because I have the language.

What has the low language child/student got to fall back on when confronted by the good intentioned teacher who asks:

- “What do you think about that?”

-”Think about what the author is saying and share your ideas with your partner.”  and so on.  Well structured questions, but are we understanding what we are asking of the low language child/student when we ask them to “think” all the time?  Who has taken the time to explicitly assist that child/student to understand what we mean by ‘think’?

The provision of opportunities to use language throughout the day is not sufficient. There has to be explicit, clear and focused instruction and assisted learning throughout the day for the ‘at risk’ language learners in our classrooms.  I am not referring to organised play centers where the language development is focused on ‘front loading’ vocabulary and working our way through lists of levelled vocabulary that has been derived by language experts.

Vocabulary is critical, I understand that from my current language learning experiences, but the vocabulary is not the major issue. I do not sit and learn all the vocabulary before I go to the grocery store. No, I go to the grocery store and with the help of the ‘more knowing other’ (Vygotsky) – in my case, the patient french lady Patricia, who struggles along with me to work out what I am looking for or what it is I need in the cold meats and produce sections.  The language acquisition is happening through the experience that is guided by ‘a more knowing other’ at the point of need (scaffolding  - Bruner).  The shopping experience itself will only prove successful as a language learning experience if I feel safe enough to ask the questions, to try to express myself and to receive the feedback that takes me to the next level. Patricia in her support operates as she would have done as a mother with her children. She slows down, she asks me simple questions, she guides my responses with correct models and she persists and persists until we make meaning. All the time positively supporting my baby steps and leaving me feeling successful and ready for the next visit. I go away and I practice any new learning and try to have those words under control for next time.  This is my daily experience. day after day, shop after shop, I am guided and supported and encouraged by the people around me who have no other option, than to make sense of my babbling and to have me make sense of their fluency.

These seven months of bliss and frustration have made me think harder and longer about the ‘at risk’ language learners in the classrooms around the world and it motivates me to get “back on the road again”.

More thinking as i travel and work in Australia over the coming weeks.

CC

 

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Oral Language Development concerns and challenges replicate across the world and across languages.

 

Over the last 6 months I have worked  Australia, across four states and now this last week back in Ontario, Canada. The work in Australia  focused on the link between Oral Language development and the processes of learning and teaching in Prep (Kindergarten) – Year 12. Most recently in Ontario, I have continued my work in using The 4 Oral Language Teaching Foci and the Oral Language Instructional Strategies, with schools in the York Region District School Board, northern network. I also spent three amazing days last week, working with the French Language School Boards of Ontario. During these days I shared my thinking, research, practice and vision in English and the participants (Lead Board personnel from each of the 12 boards) spoke and wrote in French. Second language acquisition in action! For those of you who know me, you know that when I first went to live in France (4 years ago) I understood and spoke little to nothing of the French language. The work and thinking that we engaged in over those three days, was so deep and reflective and I left  last Thursday knowing that as a group, we had connected and reflected on the same level, even though the language of instruction in our contexts is different.

The needs of the French Language schools (both students and teachers) proved to be the same as those expressed to me by the Australian educators and links back to my original research from the mid 1990′s in Victoria, Australia. It excites me to have this most recent opportunity to arrive in the form of working to develop the French version of the Oral Language Receptive Language Assessment, The 4 Oral Language Teaching Foci, the Oral Language Instructional Strategies and the Oral Language Teaching Prompts.

I am challenging myself every day to get the message across to all educators that the thing that we assume is so natural – language acquisition- is in fact the major stumbling block for so many learners in our classrooms. Hattie (2011 Visible Learning)  tells us most recently that his current meta analysis shows that teachers are still doing 80% of the talk in the classroom. Hattie  suggests that we need to reduce the amount of teacher talk.. My research supports the premise that we first need to make sure that we know who the students in our classrooms are who do not connect with the language of instruction, then teachers need to learn how to adjust their instructional language, which in turn, reduces the amount of teacher talk.

So, now I move into the end of this Northern Hemisphere school year re energised by the work in Ontario and for my Southern Hemisphere colleagues, you still have half a year of instruction left to make the impact. Thank you to you all for pushing my thinking, connecting my beliefs back into the classroom and demonstrating that there is a strong need to focus our attention on the most natural of all processes – language acquisition and development.

There will be so much more to share regarding the learning over the coming months.

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A Busy Six Months

I can hardly believe that it has been six months away from the constant of blogging, Twitter and Facebook. I have had a hectic few months living back in Australia from November 2011 to May 2012. During this time I have had some wonderful personal and professional interactions and experiences.

Living in the Oral Language Developmental Continuum

My three grandsons are of course my delight and when I go back to Australia I admit to getting totally absorbed in them. This time was a special visit as I had the three boys (Angus 4:5 yrs, Edward 2:5 yrs and Jacob 1:5 yrs) all to myself while mum and dad went off to Thailand for a rest!

What transpired had many wonderful moments and lots of wonderful memories for Nanna CC, but what I had not consciously considered either before or during, became so alive for me after I had left the boys at the end of my three-week babysitting stint. I had been totally emerged in three definite stages of oral language development.

There was the morning when I was struggling to get all three boys strapped into their car seats in the back of the SUV, I was huffing and puffing and just could not get the seat belt into place on Angus’s seat. He calmly tapped me on the arm, looked into my eyes when I turned my head to see what he wanted and the wisdom of the 4:5 year old flowed:

“ Nanny, you are doing fine. It’s just a ridiculous system!”

Then the day when I thought I would just see if by consciously working on the grammar of a 2 year old would make any difference. Edward is in the typical phase of struggling to get his message understood and wrangling with that grammar. Nanny thought she would just try to fix his grammatical form (as many teachers do on a daily basis way before the child is ready):

EDWARD: “Nanny, look. Me eating me dinner with me spoon.”

Nanna CC: “Edward, you say “ I am eating my dinner with my spoon.”

EDWARD: (looking cross and bemused by my stupidity) “Nanny, NO! Me dinner, not you dinner! Me eat  me dinner. Not you nanny. Naughty nanny!”

And then there was little Jacob (Jakie). Now on my arrival the early morning wake up (and I mean EARLY) could be heard from the other end of that big house as he happily stood upright in his crib and banged the sides calling at the top of his little (BIG) voice:

“Dad dad dad dad dad dad dad. OR Mum mum mum mum mum mum”

By the end of the first three or four days he had quickly worked out a change of tactic was needed and so I was awoken the next morning and there after to:

“Nan nan nan nan nan nan!”

The development over the three week period was astounding and the importance of the rich language background and foundation was clear and a stark reminder to me of the many challenges confronted by low language students and their teachers.

I am excited to be heading back to Ontario over the next two weeks and having the opportunity to share and learn together with many of my PLN.

In the meantime I will be sharing some of my experiences with my Australian colleagues over these past 6 months.

It feels great to be back sharing and reconnecting.

More soon.

 

 

 

 

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Part 1 of My Oral Language Journey in Grade 6 – Guest Post

 

Erin Aldrich

Currently teaching grade 6, and Grade 8 History/Geography at Morning Glory Public School in York Region District School Board Erin has been teaching for 13 years. She began her career in Northern Alberta before coming home to Ontario. Erin’s main leadership role  at Morning Glory was as the Literacy Lead teacher for 5 years. Her current leadership roles include being the onsite literacy@schooljo teacher as well as the technology lead teacher. She has been immersed in using Apple and SMART technology for the past 7 years.

Part 1 of My Oral Language Journey in Grade 6

I was introduced to Carmel approximately 7 years ago. I was one month into my first year as junior/intermediate literacy teacher at Morning Glory P.S and my literacy partner-in-crime and I were attending our first workshop with Carmel. Within the first hour we heard Carmel define the role of Literacy teacher in a context that had never occurred to us. Working inside the classroom with the classroom teachers. Not working outside the classroom with the students. In the effort to build capacity, this made sense however both of us felt highly under-qualified to take on this role! We marched back to school with our tails between our legs and humbly told our Admin that they needed to find people more experienced and more qualified to do this job. Who were we to go into a classroom and work with teachers on “best practices”? Who said our practices were even remotely considered “best”?!

Little did I know that this was the beginning of a career changing learning adventure that would set the foundation for my future and ongoing professional growth as an educator.

Though my learning journey is far from over, I’d like to share my travels so far.

Continue reading

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Moving forward – looking back – the recursive journey of learning

Keeping ahead of the field

Yikes, January 17th 2012 already!  Another year has arrived so fast that I barely have my running shoes on and already I am being called to the starting blocks. Yes, it is a race, as a race against the clock seems to be the order of the day in our fast paced world of Web2.1 and beyond, iPads, iPhones, iTouches. Twitter, Google+ and the ever changing and confusing Facebook, texting, blogging, voice messaging etc. But somewhere there needs to be time for reflection, time for looking back over what has gone before. If we do not look back and take stock of what has passed and what has been the successes and challenges of the previous year, then we can fall into the trap of running the same race year after year and never moving beyond. To keep ahead of the field I have to study the field, I have to know what works and what should be put to one side or completely dropped.

The world of learning and teaching is ever changing (play-based learning, inquiry learning, project learning, critical thinking, problem solving etc), ever growing and it is fast paced. To be the best we can and to help our students be the best that they can, we do not have to have all the answers, but we need to be asking a lot of questions. Those questions will be best formed as we reflect on the past year, the last week, the day that has just ended and lesson that has just finished. As we move forward we are propelled by what we learn from looking back. The looking back assists the looking forward and provides the focus that is so necessary to scan the information that is now flooding us as educators and learners.

I am excited with what lies ahead, but I am taking time to make sure I have learned my lessons from what has now passed. I wish you all an amazing 2012 and I am looking forward to learning from and with you all. I hope you will join me through this blog, Google+, Facebook and Twitter and keep the thinking and reflecting open and challenging for us all.

Have an awesome year everyone!

CC

 

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A Christmas Message


I just wanted to take some time to wish all of my PLN a safe and happy Holiday time. For some it is the end of your school year, for others it is just a short break to celebrate the Holidays, for some there is little or no time aware from the office and work space. Regardless of where you work or live it is a time for us all to spend time with our friends and families and celebrate the festive season in whatever way we choose to.

This year I find myself back in Australia with my wonderful growing family and friends. My husband and I have a blended family with six wonderful adult children, and 9 adorable grandchildren with another one on the way in March. For us Christmas is a busy mobile time where we move between family members houses and this year we are especially lucky because all of our children and grand children are all gathered in one place, Melbourne for the main celebration days. This is indeed a task as we are spread across the globe, in France; Kansas, USA; Laos and in two states of Australia, so being all together is getting to be a rare experience. This is Summer time in Australia, usually hot and many families spend their special days eating and relaxing at the beach, so seafood is a big celebration meal for many. This year however we are experiencing a cooler season and it looks like roast turkey and the traditional meal could be back on the menu on Christmas day! But regardless of the weather or the food, it will be a blessing to be surrounded by our children, grand children, my father, sister and brother and all of their children and grand children.

I hope that all of you and your families have a wonderful restful time together and that the children that we all strive to serve every day find peace and happiness away from our care. I look forward to sharing some of the joys of my family time and of hearing many of your stories when we come together across the various mediums.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE.

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Guest Post – Reflections on Carmel’s Oral Language Challenge

This week we have another guest blog post for you to read and discuss from Royan Lee, a teacher leader in the York Region District School Board, Ontario, Canada.  I met Royan through Twitter and he is now such an important part of my PLN. I am very excited to have him as a guest on my Blog. I know you will all learn from his insights.

Currently an intermediate literacy teacher in Richmond Hill, he has experience teaching all elementary grades. Royan’s current professional preoccupations include contemporary literacy and assessment practice, social media in the classroom, and passion based learning. You can find him online at royanlee.com or follow him on twitter @royanlee.

 

When Carmel asked me to write a guest post for her blog, I immediately knew what it had to be about. You see, about a month ago Carmel challenged us to consciously avoid the automatic parroting of our students as part of our instructional language. I really found that intriguing for a simple reason.

I do it all the time. 

“Are you trying to say that…”

“So you’re saying that…”

“Do you mean…”

At this stage of the game, I’m not even certain if I do it sub-consciously or on purpose. In fact, I actually think it’s a practice I learned in professional development at some stage. Regardless of its genesis, the fact that I take it for granted is a signal that it should be critically evaluated.

So I took on the challenge with gusto and immediately started seeing dividends. I noticed that my students were in the habit of waiting for my echoing of what their classmates said, and that even the speaker him/herself was accustomed to waiting for me to legitimize what they had said. It’s a seemingly small change in my practice, but I’m seeing a big benefit. It’s precisely what Carmel wrote about: the kids are listening to one another better, providing better wait time when their classmates are speaking, and transferring these all-important skills and attitudes into their small group work. Too often we focus on outcomes and forget that it’s actually the process of learning that should be lauded above all else. Critical thinking, inquiry, and collaboration are not culminating tasks.

Apart from specific reflections on this challenge, however, this experience made me reflect on all manner of tangents.

The Little Things

It fills me with great optimism that a relatively easy tweak in how I use language in the class could have such a meaningful impact on my students’ collaboration and learning. So often in the blogosphere we dialogue about grand, macro-level topics, usually asking for change to cemented paradigms. This is wonderful and a significant reason why I am so engaged with these spaces (I see schooling as a problem to solve, not as a structure to support), but perhaps we do not talk enough about the so-called little things that some of us are doing, and can do, to make better, transformative learning environments for our kids.

Addition by Subtraction

When I talk to colleagues that feel overwhelmed by this crazy endeavour called educating, they usually express an inability to cope with the plethora of demands placed upon them, and that this weight seems to be added to on an ongoing basis (usually externally). Why do so many of us feel an increased pressure to do more, when it’s actually that we need to do less of many of the elements of our ingrained behaviours?

Doing, not just Thinking

Many of us involved in various degrees of educational leadership enjoy and frequently take part in theoretical debates on all manner of topics. This is so important because, as Simon Sinek says, the whys hold primacy over the what or how. Still, I sometimes feel that it’s possible for us to fall down the rabbit hole of whys to the point where we don’t challenge ourselves to do. One of the things that intrigued me so much about Carmel’s challenge was that she was asking us to do something.

When’s the last time you acted upon a challenge from a trusted peer to change a normalized part of your practice for the better?

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Technology’s Impact On Teaching Oral Language

Todays post is the first of what I hope will be a series of guest posts on my blog. From the pen of Aviva Dunsiger. Aviva is a Grade 1/2 teacher with an interest in integrating technology in the classroom to further the learning of her students. You can read some of Aviva’s thoughts on her blog at avivadunsiger.blogspot.com

A very special thank you to Carmel Crevola for asking me to do this guest post on her blog. Carmel has taught me so much about oral language, and since starting to interact with her on Twitter, I have become far more aware of how I develop oral language skills in my students. I purposely plan more oral language activities in the classroom, and I make oral language an important part of my Grade ½ program. Thanks Carmel for making me a better teacher!

Aviva Dunsiger

Yesterday, I had the rare opportunity to work with just my Grade 1 students in class. My Grade 2 students were joining the other Grade 2 classes for a science activity, and since I was about to start a new science unit in Grade 1, I thought that I would introduce it during this time. The science unit is on the “seasons.” Students learn about the seasons in Kindergarten too, so I knew that this wasn’t a new concept for them, but I wanted the students to apply what they already knew and develop some new learning as well. I found a short video called, The Berenstain Bears: Bears For All Seasons.This video would help students see the changes that happen during the seasons, as well as different outdoor activities for the different seasons.

While watching and listening to the movie, students were asked to think about the answers to these two questions:

1) What happens during the different seasons?

2) What outdoor activities do people participate in during the different seasons?

In order for students to make note of their learning during the movie, each child was asked to choose a tool to record their notes. Some students tweeted on the iPads, some students blogged on the computers, one student wrote on the iPod Touch, a couple of students used Pictochat to have a discussion on the Nintendo DS’, and many students wrote and drew on the whiteboards and chalkboards.

While this was a science lesson, oral language was a big part of it. Students needed to listen, they needed to reflect on what they heard, and they needed to make sense of what they heard as they took this oral information and created written notes and drawings.

Now I teach young students. I have students with a variety of needs in my Grade ½ classroom: some have autism, some are ELL, and some have academic learning needs. I needed to make this lesson successful for everyone. So I made some very deliberate choices throughout this activity:

1) I stopped the movie after important points. I had students discuss what they saw. Since I only had 11 Grade 1 students at school yesterday, I didn’t have students raise their hand and wait their turn. We just talked.

2) I asked questions. I got students to make connections between what they saw in this movie and what they would do in their own lives. What was the same and what was different?

3) I had students look through books on the seasons a couple of days prior to this activity. They spoke with a partner about the images that they saw and the text that they read. These books were full of large, colourful pictures of students just like them. For my students with autism or those that are ELL, having these visuals first helped them make connections later.

4) I did lots of think alouds during the movie. I shared what I was thinking, but I also got students to share what they were thinking. Students asked questions of each other. They made connections to what others said.

When the movie was over and the writing was done too, I compiled all of the finished work into this digital storybook to go on our class blog. Next week, when students start to apply what they learned to their own experiences, they can look back at this book to get them thinking again.

You can see the digital story book embedded below -

This whole experience has made me wonder if technology changes our classroom instruction of oral language. In the past, I would have had students show me they were listening to the movie by watching the movie quietly and then talking about it later. It wouldn’t have been until our follow-up conversation that I would have learned who understood the content and who didn’t. At that point, how much would they have missed? Would our conversation have any meaning to them? Then there’s the shy student that doesn’t want to contribute to the class discussion, or the student with focusing issues that may have missed the whole movie because he/she was too busy moving around on the carpet. How do these students contribute to the discussion? How do we teach them to be good listeners and have a “voice” in the conversation?

I think that a backchannel’s the answer. With tools that allow students to write, to draw, and even to share their ideas orally, all student needs are addressed. All students can contribute to the conversation. All students can ask questions, make connections, and experience success.

How has technology impacted on your teaching of oral language? What are the results?

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Teacher Tip # 3: How to put ‘the work into the play’: using invitational prompts

The third of my oral language teaching tips (click on the Oral Language Teaching Tip link here for tips 1 and 2) Speak Up: Oral Language Teaching Tip #3 is centered on one way to insert powerful teacher instructional language into the play-based learning model.

TEACHING TIP:

When you are moving around to the various play stations that you have established in your classroom. What do you do?

1 – Stand back and observe? This is in fact highly effective and essential if you have something that you are intentionally wanting to observe or that is guiding your observation and note taking. (I will focus on this aspect at another time.)

2 – Stop and engage in conversation with the students at that station?  This is the action I want to focus on. I want to have you think about your interactions at these times.

Your play-based classroom program is set up to promote inquiry and to foster the development of language, problem solving and self-discovery. These are all great goals. But, of course you know, I am going to throw a challenge in here!

  1. What guides your instructional language when you move into a conversation in a play situation?
  2. How do you begin your dialogue?
  3. Do you ask questions?  “What are you doing Jane? Have you been helping Jane, Sammy?”
  4. Do you make comments? “You have been working very hard. That looks amazing.”
  5. Do you use a combination of questions and comments? for example “ Miko, you are very busy using all those blocks to make that tower. What are you going to do next?”
  6. Do the students comply with responding when requested or do they offer detailed responses?
  7. How do the responses vary? Are they dependent on the language level of the students?

The Challenge:

This week take the time to focus on your approach to interacting with your students when they are engaged at their play stations.

Day 1: Use your normal approach. Listen to your teacher language- (or better still, have a colleague video you as you are working with your students) .What do you notice? Look back at the list of reflective questions above. Take some time to reflect on what you discover. What is challenging you as a response to this?

Day 2: Think about the notion of ‘Invitational Prompts’ : rather than asking a question how might you ‘invite’ a discussion or dialogue.  Remember not to repeat their responses. (Go back to Teacher  Tip 1 to revise this aspect)

Day 3: Plan some different ways that you can ‘put the work into the play’ but adjusting your teacher language through ‘inviting’ conversations rather than asking for explanations or answers to questions.

Make some reflective notes. Record some of the effective ‘invitational prompts’ that you are discovering.

Day 4: Try to establish 6 different ‘invitational prompts’ that you can use to access to the play environment that also promote scaffolding through assisting students to Express Their Thoughts/Ideas and Opinions (Oral Language Teaching Foci #1)

Let me know your thoughts.  What have you discovered?  How you are refining your invitational prompts (especially for those who have already been working in this way before) either in the comments below, on my facebook page, or as ever on twitter.

Oh and by the way I just joined google plus and have a new page there but more on that later as I have some exciting news to share with you.

Will you take the challenge this week?

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