Welcome to my blog! I'm Karen Belt, a teacher and leader of digital learning, working at Lynmore Primary School in Rotorua, New Zealand. I'm teaching in a Year 2 class using iPads to engage and motivate learners and improve student achievement. This blog documents my teaching journey and my learning processes with iPads in the classroom. I've proud of having been a member of the inaugural Manaiakalani Digital Teaching Academy(MDTA) program and last year a Spark Manaiakalani Innovative Teacher (MIT) and Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir teacher.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Rich Discussions ... gifting oral language

Today we had another great session with Dr Jannie van Hees, focusing on oral language and the need for rich discussions, particularly with our learners who often enter school without the benefit of rich experiences.

This constraint, often bought about through not enough mileage in multiple contexts can inhibit their learning.  As Jannie reminded us today, we need to provide experiences which are engaging for our learners and expand on their existing bank of oral language through gifting.

Some main points that I took away from today's session include:

  • All children have a need for language encounters
  • Focus on retell - lots & lots - vary the text being used
  • Stories are more likely to end up with language acquisition than songs - recycling is extremely important
  • To be great writers, learners need to be more fluent in what they can say - if you don't push for fullness, demonstrate, model, the oral language won't improve
  • An inhibitor to discussion (and writing) can be what is known by the learner about the topic & what they can bring to the text
  • Our learners need us to "bombard" them with oral language and rich pickings
  • Language is only a tool for making meaning

So, with the above in mind, what can I do differently in the classroom to enhance the oral language for my learners?  

  • Use pictures and have a conversation about it - share ideas orally - we have to make it noticeable and retrievable - need to trigger their knowns 
  • As the teacher, I need to make it noticeable - repeat it - highlight it - reword it and most of all repeat it
In our digital environment I have the opportunity to make this very rewindable for the learners - by using the iPad to record our conversation as well as creating opportunities for the learners to revisit the ideas we had.   With this in mind, my intention is to use our Inquiry topic (around the zoo animals) as a starting point to trigger these conversations.  Using this sequence of pictures (one per day) will hopefully enable the learners to relate (as we have just been to the zoo) to the animal, recycle the language because the same animal is featuring while also enabling me to gift vocabulary throughout the week.

In order to make the information retrievable, we'll create a small book to document their ideas - using Book Creator, which allows for audio as well as the written, learners will be able to revisit the ideas we've discussed as a whole class.  I'm excited to increase the rich discussions in the classroom and see how this increased rich oral language assists my learners with their writing - as always, watch this space!

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