Francesca Ross, Literacy Co-ordinator and Teacher writes about how to get children talking – but at the right times!
It can be a difficult task getting the noise and talk level balance right in the classroom. However I am a firm believer that, in an ever-changing society, children need to be equipped in many forms of communication not forgetting their TALK skills.
Having had some great child initiated conversations this week with my Year 5 class including:
- Should we be part of the EU? Following one child’s viewing of the six o’clock news and David Cameron’s speech
- Is there a need for our queen today and is she as important as Henry VIII?
One thing is for sure we, as teachers definitely need to be providing purposeful opportunities for children to explore and engage in conversations.
Finding ways to incorporate child led conversations at the right time can be difficult. I’m sure many of us can recall being asked a great question but at the wrong time! Hence we redirect the conversation back to our teaching. Whether we intend to revisit the point at a more suitable time I’m sure many children feel frustrated at this or may even be lost to the task in hand by their own train of thought already.
Through the use of Possible Lines of Development (PLODs), the foundation stage teaching method has already discovered ways of recording and incorporating child led themes into the curriculum. However in key stage 1 and 2 here are just a few ideas that may help encourage child led themes within other year groups.
Use an ‘ask it basket’ within class to get children to post their questions or themes in the basket which can be revisited at a more appropriate time. Younger children could record their ideas on voice recorders, like Easi-Speak from TTS.
Providing children with a homework menu which lists a number of activities linked to a project or theme. This can be given out at the beginning of a unit of work for children to dip in and out of it. By encouraging collaboration with a family member at home children will be communicating their school learning which will in turn support further learning and reinforcement.
Including ‘TALK homework’ to encourage parents and carers etc in conversation is another great way to engage the whole family. This could be linked to current affairs or a class project. I have also used through school themes so that families with siblings can talk around a common theme. Some children could take voice recorders home along with a class bear or mascot so that ideas can be shared back in school or within a whole school assembly.
To encourage talk with a link to writing these Writing Skills Target Cards can be used to direct talk to a child’s own awareness within independent work.
These writing activity cards have a Talk activity to extend and enhance the learning opportunity. Children can use the cards independently or within a guided group to become aware of their own and others writing styles.
Combining the skill with the Talk activities allows reinforcement of the skill and opportunity to discuss misconceptions while developing speaking and listening skills.
Teaching is not reinventing the wheel but the wheel is moving so directing the learning and engagement of children within an ever changing society is surely easier when ideas are shared…so get TALKING!