This term as part of our personal inquiries we have the privilege of having a number of professional development sessions. This week we had Dr Jannie van Hees present on how to develop a dialogic, orally expressive classroom.
In Jannie's presentation there were a number of points where I was challenged to reflect on my practice. She began by asking us two questions. How do you encourage and promote oral language and dialogic teaching? And how do you explicitly grow your student's expression? When reflecting on these questions I found it hard to pinpoint when during the day do I actually explicitly teach and promote oral language. During the day I am continually in conversation with my students but there are not many times when I am deliberately teaching and enabling oral language. Every week when I take literacy reading groups I have 10-20min with a small group of students. During this time we read our text and discuss it with preprepared questions. I am often encouraging students to share and explain their thinking because I am interested in their ideas rather than focused on developing their expression. These times would be perfect opportunities to teach, model and encourage further dialogic expression.
Another major point that I took away from this presentation was the need to gift students with language and vocabulary. Unfortunately many of my students have not had vocabulary and language rich childhoods. Of which this means many of them have limited vocabulary and more importantly limited ability to process and express language. Students need to have this ability to express language because language makes meaning. Meaning is foundational to developing, interacting and communicating fluently in this world. Jannie challenged us with the point that if we continually question students and aren't gifting them new language then they can and will only ever recycle that which they already know. We need to deliberately input language into our students otherwise there will be no increase. Once we gift students language then their brains can be pushed and their expression can grow.
As practical application from this discussion there are a couple activities that I want to incorporate within my daily classroom practise.
- Before completing a piece of writing get students to sort the information in their head, retain their whole story and share to their peers or back as a whole class.
- Have a word of the day where as a class we explore a new word and challenge ourselves to use it throughout the day/week.