The Importance Of Oral Language Across The Subject Areas

Through Twitter, I’ve had the opportunity to communicate numerous times with Carmel Crevola: a leading authority on oral language and the author of the Let’s Talk About It kit that I’ve used in my class for years. Carmel has really pushed my thinking when it comes to oral language in the classroom, and thanks to conversations with her, Angie Harrison (@techieang), and Heather Jelley (@team_jellybean), I’ve really made a more concerted effort to provide my students with more oral language opportunities with a very specific purpose in mind.

Today for math centres, one group of students had to create screencasts or videos sharing what they knew about three-dimensional solids. We’ve been working on this topic in math for a couple of weeks now, and students have had an opportunity to explore different three-dimensional solids and learn about their properties. From an oral language perspective, I wanted students to communicate ideas clearly, coherently, and using appropriate organizational patterns. If they were working in partners, I also wanted them to demonstrate active listening as they listened to what their partner was sharing and responded appropriately to the ideas.

The students did not disappoint. Below are all of the screencasts recorded today:

As you can hear, the children clearly formulated their ideas, shared what they learned, re-examined what they initially thought as they orally formulated their ideas, and questioned each other, as they developed new learning as well. Thanks to these screencasts, I have some great examples to show tomorrow, where students can further the discussion as they look at which students are correct and why, and as they share their own knowledge about these three-dimensional solids.

I’m finding that the more often students record their thinking and orally discuss their ideas, the more they share in their explanations and the more they question what others share too. This is helping them further develop their understanding of the subject area, which leads to a higher quality of what they write as well. Yes, for years I’ve heard that this is true, but watching and listening to what happened in my class this year, really helped me see that this is true. This was my a-ha moment!

Have you had this moment as well? What impact do you think that oral language has across the curriculum areas? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!


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