Friday, 2 March 2018



My inquiry focus for 2018 is around developing oral language.  I am not focussing on a particular curriculum area, but am looking to develop the oral language of my students in their general talk - and hopefully that will transfer to Maths and Literacy. 

By the time a child begins school in New Zealand (most begin on their 5th birthday), there are certain expectations about their oral language.  ERO (Education Review Office) advises that a 5 year old should:

* have a wide vocabulary
* be curious about language and willing to experiment
* use correct grammar when talking about past, present and future
* describe and ask questions about a picture
* put pictures in a sequence to tell a story
* be able to talk about recent events in detail
* seek or give clarification in conversation
* be able to talk about what might happen
(this is not the full list.  It can be found here).

What I’ve noticed about the students in my room:
They have a limited vocabulary, but they sure are willing to experiment.  When exposed to new vocabulary, the majority of students happily repeat the word after me and some have even attempted to use it in conversation.

Their grammar is, on the whole, incorrect - tenses are non-existent.  They don't look for clarification about what they've heard, and my hunch is they don't know how to, or perhaps don't think they're allowed to.

One thing I have noticed, is my students do not have good imaginations.  They can't seem to see things in their minds and create make-believe scenarios.   What they see is what they know. 

What I plan to do:  
While this inquiry will involve the whole class, I will have a focus group of four or five students that I will gather data from and will work with them as a specific group.  

I plan on using our iPads as much as possible.  Students will create short stories using pictures and photos and will record themselves telling their story - initially based on fact, then make believe.
Guided creative play will become a part of my day.  Guided, because I need to ensure the students are not just left to play alone, but are interacting with each other.
We will sing songs and rhymes, and read fairy tales - something that has been lacking.
I will gift new vocabulary during explicit shared writing
We will describe objects, people and scenes.  We'll start off simply – identifying objects by colour, shape, texture etc.  Will move to deeper thinking/talking as the year goes on.

What I hope will happen:  
Language will be strengthened, and children will be able to clearly explain their thoughts.  They will develop active imaginations, and will be able to tell what is happening in a picture, as well as ask questions about the picture.

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