Showing posts with label esl. Show all posts
Showing posts with label esl. Show all posts
Good listeners become good readers.

This summer, I'm diving into LETRS training on the Science of Reading.  If you've been around my corner of cyber space for a bit, you know I was introduced to the Science of Reading a few years ago through RISE training in my home state.  It was mind-blowing.  Like a where-has-this-been-all-of-my-life kind of PD.  And I just wanted more.  So, I'm digging into LETRS.  And it's intense.  And so, so good.

As I process it, I'll be blogging about some nuggets of wisdom I've learned along the way.

So... let's talk about talking.  What is oral language?  Why should I care about it as a primary teacher?  Isn't that the speech path's job?  What can I do to increase the listening comprehension of my kids?

What Is Oral Language?

Oral language is simply the way we communicate with each other.  In honor of the Friends Reunion I just binged, let's look closer at oral language, Friends style! :)

It includes the words we speak...

The nonverbal cues we give while we speak...

And listening as someone else talks to us.

Kids with strong oral language skills are able to speak in complete sentences and carry on a conversation with someone in a way that is easy to understand.  They are also able to listen and comprehend what someone else is saying by asking and answering questions about what was said.

Why Is Listening Comprehension Important?

So what?  Why do I need to worry about listening comprehension and oral language?  Isn't that my speech path friend's job?

Yes and no.  Yes, speech paths do help kids with deficits in language.  But, scientist tell us there is a HUGE correlation between oral language and reading comprehension.

Read that again.  If I can't hear it and understand it, I can't read it and understand it.

Ya'll.  I know that seems intuitive.  And it makes total sense.  But, the first time, I read this, I thought, 

OMG.  Why in the world did I not spend more time doing read alouds and talking about stories with my kids...especially my ELL babies.  

I mean, I did read alouds.  I love a good read aloud.  But, if I'm being honest, storytime got cut short in my first grade classroom many times because of all the things I had to make sure I was doing.  And you can bet your bottom dollar that my firsties' reading skill suffered because of it.

How Can We Increase Listening Comprehension?

So, what can we do?  If I could go back and do those 10 years in first grade over again, what would I do differently?

I'd work on listening comprehension.  I'd target kids with low language skills.  Kids learning English as a second language.  Kids who only spoke English, but who still struggled to carry on conversations.  Kids who couldn't answer simple questions about stories we read together.  Kids who couldn't answer simple Who/What/Where/When/Why/How questions.

I'd target those kids and pull them back in a small group during intervention time.  I'd have real, organic conversations with them.  I'd warm up by drawing some table talk cards to read and answer.  I'd read a short book and ask questions as we read.  Sometimes, even after each page if needed. (Think like when a Mom reads to a toddler.... "Where's the spider?"  "What is the spider doing?")  

For whole group oral language lessons, I'd tell jokes and talk about multiple meaning words or other skills you can target with jokes.  (I LOVED using these joke slides with my second grader this year!)

Another thing I started doing my first few years and then abandoned because #time and I didn't know any better is explicit tier 2 vocabulary instruction with read alouds.  After I first became familiar with the Science of Reading, I started doing more of these.  We did these once a week during 2nd grade last year and we used them in kindergarten when I did a long-term sub.  It's an easy way to practice oral language, while increasing your kids vocabulary and oral language skills. You can find the specific ones I've used here or try the freebie.

And I'd do it all without asking kids to decode.  No reading.  Just listening comprehension.  Because the Simple View of Reading tells us that language comprehension is ESSENTIAL to reading comprehension.  

It's not the only factor of a successful reader.  But it's a necessary part.  And it doesn't have to be done with word recognition.  You can work on language comprehension on its own, and feel good, knowing you are increasing your kids reading comprehension skills.  

If I could go back 15 years and tell my first-year teacher self just that, I would.  I'd tell her to give herself some grace, and not stress if every small group literacy time didn't include kids reading or writing actual words.  

Because oral language is that important to the literacy success of our students. 

Because good listeners make good readers.

Do your kids love jokes?  My first graders LOVED telling me jokes.  First grade seems to be the time kids begin to understand jokes and what makes them funny.  

My own 2nd grader really has a good handle on jokes now and even makes up his own.  But many of the more complicated jokes we have to explain.  About a year ago, when he was in first grade, I remember his reading us jokes from a joke book he had gotten for Christmas.  Several of them we were explaining to him, because he didn't quite understand what was so funny.

It was then that I had an idea for a group of lessons!  We could use jokes to learn different language and grammar skills in the classroom!  Now that I am homeschooling him for 2nd grade, we have started doing "Funny Fridays" and learning some jokes.  Here are the routines we use for learning language and grammar skill through jokes and puns.

What Skills Can Be Taught Through Jokes?

Comedians are extremely high in linguistic intelligence and it's easy to know why when you think about the language skills you have to know to understand and tell jokes.  Jokes are packed FULL of so many language skills like...

  • homonyms
  • homophones
  • similar sounding words (helping with phonemic awareness and phoneme differentiation)
  • metaphors
  • idioms
  • academic vocabulary
... and much more!

Whole Group Joke Telling

The first thing we do is go through the joke slides together.  I show the first slide.

We use think-pair-share to quietly think of what the answer might be, then whisper share with our carpet partners.  Then I have a few kids share their answers and tell if they agree.

Then, we show the answer slide.

We check to see if anyone got the correct answer.  Then, we talk about what might be so funny about this joke.  I ask, "Do you get it??" and have some kids explain why they think it's funny.  Most of the time someone will get it, but I've had a few they didn't get.  

If no one gets it, we go on to the last slide. (And we still go over this slide together even when someone explains it.)

The last slide reinforces the language skill we're working on, like homophones, over and over so that kids get better at figuring out the jokes as we go along.

Each set has 10 jokes that we go over as a whole group.

Optional Small Group Joke Telling

These digital slides are also available in small printable cards.  We used this for my son this year as we are homeschooling (thanks, Covid).  He was going on a road trip with Dad and I sent him this ring of joke cards to practice and go through with Dad in the car!

The card ring is also great to take on the go... bathroom breaks, outside learning, stations and more!

Independent Practice

After we introduce the jokes whole group with the slides or in a small group with the ring of cards, I have the kids practice finding the language skill in the jokes independently.

The work page has three jokes.  Usually one is a repeat from our whole group and at least 2 are new ones for them to read, locate the skill word(s) that make the joke funny and then illustrate the multiple meanings or implied meanings that make the joke funny.

My 2nd grader absolutely LOVES our funny fridays now!

You can find the slides, small joke cards, and printables in each joke resource.  Here's a free sample to try first and the bundle!

With the high ESL population at our school, language skills like verb tense is a real issue.  And, unfortunately, it's not as noticeable when we do informative or opinion writing because we use so many sentence frames to help them write.  But narrative is more of a "free form" style and so language errors happen A LOT!

The first thing we have to master is verb tense.  Even my English kiddos struggle with some of the irregular verbs, so these lessons are perfect for all of my firsties.

So, last week, we spent the week focusing on verbs.  The first day, we talked about the difference between past and present tense.  We discussed the common past ending -ed and how they indicates something already happened.  Then, we charted an example of a common past verb and several "weirdos," or verbs that don't follow the -ed rule.

After we discussed and practice past and present tense whole group, they worked in their table groups to sort past tense verbs used correctly and incorrectly.   {I also have a laminated copy in a literacy station this week}

And one group just had to make theirs into a book, so how could I not take a picture of that cuteness?!?!

The next day, we introduced future verbs and they did another sort with past, present, and future tense.  Of course, I ran a fever that day for like the first time in FOR. EVER. so my intern took over and I didn't get any pics!

We spent the rest of the week modeling verb tense in our model writes during writers workshop and using our "check yourself" language rubric to grade ourselves on our verb tense!  Check out my Verb Tense Sort and other language ideas for our sweet ELL babies in my TPT store!

And find TONS more language and grammar anchor chart templates HERE.

Language is so basic and organic that sometimes I think we forget about how important it really is...

Anybody remember that there are actually 5 language standards with 23 sub points in our Common Core Standards.'s not just reading and writing, people.  Oh yeah, and there's a whole 'nother strand on speaking too. {How 'bout that Arkansaseese for ya?}  So, yeah...language is *kinda* important!

So let's get back to the basics with a few of my most tried and true language tools.

I'm linking up with my friend, #TeacherMom, again for some Back-To-School language tools!

From a teacher who taught for 9 years in a high poverty, high ELL school {and still teaches in a diverse school this year}, here are my tried and true language tools for building good language with our ELL babies! And {*psssst!*} works for everyone else too!

1. Ranch Hands
Since my room is western themed and all, it's only fitting that my star student/weekly helper/whatever you wanna call it kid is called our "Ranch Hand."  You may be thinking, what does a class helper have to do with language?

Wait for it.  Just wait.

Each year I handle ranch hands differently...some years I've done too much and felt stretched too thin, and other years I've not done enough and felt too guilty.  But so far, this's feeling just right.  It is of course, just two weeks into school, so we'll see how I feel in May.

Anyhoo.... I'm a big believer it making kids feel wanted and important.  I think kids gain confidence when they feel this way.  And confident kids become confident speakers. #language 

Also, when students are asked to be leaders and share with us about their family, who they are, what they like, and answer questions, they feel loved, appreciated, and included.  AND, they have to practice language skills.  #language

Here's a look at how I'm handling my ranch hands each week....
I never really had a good spot for my ranch hands to sit in my old classroom, so I was super excited that I was able to find a spot this year in my new room.... {it helps that I left my big ole' easel in my old room too!}  

This red desk has been with me since my first year.  My dad found it on the side of the road for free and I painted it red and glazed it.  In my old classroom, it sat out in the hallway, but this year I had a spot to bring it inside and use it for my ranch hand's desk!  My ranch hand gets to move in here for their special week....and, of course, wear the cowboy hat!

I stole the banners from one of my teammates from last year.  I loved how she personalized the alliteration for each kiddo so I decided to carry that on this year!  The chalkboard banners are from amazon and I laminated each pennant so I could reuse them each week.

Each day, we do something special to introduce our ranch hand.  I send parents a note on Monday telling them their child is the ranch hand this week.  It gives them a list of things to bring each day and what our schedule looks like for the week.

Monday: Meet the ranch hand....we introduce our new ranch hand and interview them with these questions to fill out their wanted poster.  Pretty much covering Common Core Speaking & Listening {SL} 1, 2, 3, and 6 right here. #language

Then, we hang the wanted ad for everyone to see {names marked out for privacy!}  At the end of the week, I add my own special note at the bottom to our ranch hand and send it home with them.

On Tuesdays, our ranch hand brings in 3 photos to share with us about their family.  They must say at least one complete sentence about each picture...building language skills again right here and covering those same ol' S&L standards!  Plus, you should see the grins on their faces when they get to share pictures.  They love it!!  The pictures get taped and added to our wall as well...and sent home on Friday.

Wednesdays we make a wordle describing our ranch hand.  Each student must think of one adjective to describe our friend.  And they must speak in a complete sentence.  We use sentence frames to help them...."Whitney is _____." or "Whitney has _______." etc.  I type it in to and make the wordle right there with the kiddos, print it out and hang it on the wall too!  I've done this one other year, but I quit for a few years in between because I was trying to print them in color and it was just too much.  So this year I decided to bring back the wordles with black and white only!  And I still think they look great!  All kinds of language skills wrapped up with this activity.  We get to talk about adjectives once a week so it's always on their brain, they have to speak in complete sentences {and later in the year, they have to write their sentence on a sticky note for our ranch just takes way too long at the beginning of the year}, and our ranch hand just beams the whole time.  I can't think of a happier way to practice basic language skills than building each other up.

Thursdays: Show & Tell.  The ranch hand tells about ONE thing they bring to share and must answer 3 questions from the audience about their item.

Friday: On the last Friday of each month, I eat lunch with all of my ranch hands from that month for some good ol' friendly conversations.

So, yeah, it's an oldie, but a goodie...featuring kids and letting them talk in front of the class about what they want to talk about and making them ask and answer questions is just the most old fashioned, but most organic way, to develop language!

2. Verb Tenses
Here's another language tool from my store...

Year after year, I use this chart and sort from my TPT store.  Yeah, it's a little bit a lot-a-bit old and needs to be updated {like from my pre-cute-cover days}, but it's got some good meat inside of it!
I blogged about this one in detail back in the spring.  Check it out here!

3. Productive Group Work
When kids work by themselves, they don't have to talk.   When kids work in groups, they are supposed to talk.  When kids work in productive groups and have to "share the pen," they HAVE to talk. #language

Here are just a few blog posts are productive group work in literacy and math...
>>>Main Idea {FREEBIE}

>>>Non-Fiction Feature Scavenger Hunt

>>>Math Fact Fluency Partner Work

It seems so basic, but language is just that...basic.

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