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Developing Oral Language Skills


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Title: Developing Oral Language Skills

Developing Oral Language Skills
  • Reading First
  • MA Department of Education
  • November 15, 2006

  • How language abilities and background knowledge
    are related to oral and reading comprehension
  • How to activate prior knowledge and build
    background knowledge
  • How to use the themes and complex concepts in the
    core program to strengthen classroom discourse
  • How to facilitate discussion in your classroom
  • Learn vocabulary maintenance activities

Discussion (Standard 1)
  • Discussion promotes self-discipline and reflects
    respect for others
  • Students will be able to
  • Follow rules for formal and informal discussion
    in large and small groups by
  • Listening actively
  • Staying on topic
  • Considering the ideas of others
  • Avoiding sarcasm and personal remarks
  • Taking turns
  • Gaining the floor in appropriate ways

Questioning, Listening, Contributing (Standard 2)
  • Group discussion may lead to greater complexity
    of thought as students expand on the ideas of
    others, refine initial ideas, pose hypotheses,
    and work toward solutions.
  • Group work helps students gain a deeper
    understanding of themselves as they reflect upon
    and express their own thinking
  • Students will be able to
  • Pose questions
  • Listen to others
  • Contribute their own information or ideas in
    discussions and interviews in order to acquire
    new knowledge

Oral Presentation (Standard 3)
  • Oral presentations demonstrate appropriate
    consideration of audience, purpose, and the
    information to be conveyed
  • Students will be able to
  • Maintain focus on topic
  • Use eye contact, adequate volume, clear
  • Use language to persuade, explain, or seek
  • Use recognizable organization
  • Keep the audiences attention, interest and

Vocabulary and Concept Development (Standard 4)
  • Students will understand and acquire new
    vocabulary…to read, write, and speak with
    flexibility and control
  • Students will be able to
  • Sort and identify words into various
    classification and conceptual categories
  • Identify common antonyms and synonyms
  • Identify the meaning of common idioms and
    figurative language
  • Recognize and use words with multiple meanings

Theme (Standard 11)
  • Theme identification clarifies the students
    interpretation of the text.
  • Students will be able to
  • Relate themes in works of fiction and nonfiction
    to personal experiences
  • Identify themes as lessons in folktales, fables,
    and Greek myths for children
  • Identify, analyze, and apply knowledge of theme
    in a literary work and provide evidence from the
    text to support their understanding

  • How language abilities and background knowledge
    are related to oral and reading comprehension
  • How to activate prior knowledge and build
    background knowledge
  • How to use the themes and complex concepts in the
    core program to strengthen classroom discourse
  • How to facilitate discussion in your classroom
  • Learn vocabulary maintenance activities

Source Neuman, Susan B. and Dickinson, David K.,
Handbook of Early Literacy Research
Differences in SES cause differences among
students in both comprehension and fluency
Lower SES students
  • Lower vocabulary
  • Less support for reading in the home less
  • Less preparation in preschool environment for
    early acquisition of alphabetic principle
  • Less exposure to books
  • Fewer opportunities to develop rich content

Lower Comprehension
Language and Comprehension
  • Vocabulary knowledge correlates strongly with
    reading and oral comprehension (Biemiller, 2005)
  • Students need to know the meaning of 90-95 of
    the words in text
  • Language can only grow through interaction with
    people and texts that introduce new vocabulary,
    concepts, and language structures (Hirsch, 2003).
  • A large language gap exists between advantaged
    and disadvantaged students (Hirsch, 2003)

  • Intentional thinking during which meaning is
    constructed through interactions between text and
    reader (Harris and Hodges, 1995).
  • Readers derive meaning by actively relating the
    ideas represented in print to their own knowledge
    and experiences and construct mental
    representations in memory (National Reading
    Panel, 2000).

Background Knowledge
  • Students need more than vocabulary to understand
  • They need a threshold of knowledge about the
    topic being discussed (Hirsch, 2003).

Background Knowledge
  • Frees up working memory to make connections
    between new and previously learned information,
    and as a result readers/listeners can
  • Integrate sentences and paragraph
    (Hess, Foss,
    Carroll, 1995 Zwaan Radvansky, 1998)
  • Make inferences (Kintsch, 1994)
  • Develop deeper understanding (McNamara et al.,
  • Allow for learning and transfer to novel
    situations (Kintsch, 1994).
  • Retain learned information new information lasts
    longer (Kintsch et al, 1990).

Types of Background Knowledge
  • Topic Knowledge soccer, spiders, cars, Spain
    (Chiesi et al., 1979 Pearson et
    al., 1979 Spilich et al., 1979 Taylor, 1979).
  • Conceptual Knowledge loyalty, sacrifice,
    friendship, habitat, immigration, countries,
    transportation, weather (Alexander, 1992
    Ehren, 2005)
  • Script Knowledge going to the movies, weddings,
    birthday parties, going to a restaurant (Bower,
    Black, Turner, 1979)
  • Cultural Knowledge customs, dress, behaviors
    (Ehren, 2005)

  • An important idea or subject that runs through a
    story sometimes unstated.
  • The theme of a selection can be the topic,
    message, lesson, main point, moral
    (Graesser et al., 2002 Zwaan et al., 2002).
  • It operates at the concept level beyond a
    particular plot (Williams, 1993 Williams et al.,
  • Theme is the abstraction of the events described
    (Williams et al., 1994).
  • Theme identification becomes an anchor for idea
    integration (Singer, 1990).

The Plan
  • The plan is to strengthen language skills,
    concept knowledge, and build background knowledge
    using the core program
  • How do we do this? Use themes from the core to
    strengthen/build knowledge and vocabulary
  • The goal
  • Help students understand the connections among
    the stories
  • Build vocabulary of familiar and unfamiliar
  • Students will use the vocabulary during oral
    language activities
  • Revisit the new vocabulary throughout the 5 or 6
  • Then maintain the use of the language

  • How language abilities and background knowledge
    are related to oral and reading comprehension
  • How to activate prior knowledge and build
    background knowledge
  • How to use the themes and complex concepts in the
    core program to strengthen classroom discourse
  • How to facilitate discussion in your classroom
  • Learn vocabulary maintenance activities

READ the STORY TEAMMATES (Open Court Reading,
Selecting Words YOU TRY IT!
  • Identify explicitly stated topic, complex
    concepts, theme
  • Look at core program vocabulary selection
  • Exist, extraordinary, apathetic, intimidate,
    experiment, humiliations
  • Identify additional words/ideas to teach
  • Theme
  • Explicit Topic
  • Complex Concepts beyond the theme

Sample Words
  • Topic Baseball
  • Peer pressure
  • Segregation
  • Racial bias
  • Prejudice
  • Courage
  • Relationships
  • Apathy
  • Tolerance
  • Humiliation

Before Reading Activating Prior/Building
Background Knowledge with Oral Language
  • Categories Topic
  • Gradable Antonyms
  • Discussion Concept and theme
  • Semantic Map Topic (word web)
  • Story Impression
  • Word splash
  • Four Square Concept Map

  • Purpose Build background knowledge
    categorization pre-teaching vocabulary teaches
    main idea and supporting details.
  • Directions
  • Select story topic
  • (farm, weather, baseball, etc.)
  • Select words from story and other related known
    words (K and 1 use pictures)
  • Ask students to read their words and group
    themselves accordingly
  • Have groups discuss why they are grouped that way
    (Moats, 2005)

Gradable Antonyms
  • Purpose Build background knowledge
    pre-teach/re-teach vocabulary in an
    interconnected way
  • Directions
  • Choose a gradable antonym (examples hot/cold,
  • Split into groups of 4 or 5 or into two teams
  • Brainstorm related words in the groups (ex hot,
    cool, cold, warm)
  • Arrange the words in a continuum (ex hot, warm,
    cool, cold)
  • Share and discuss the word lists with the group
  • Note Pictures may be used for students in K/1.

  • Purpose To develop discussion and oral
    presentation skills promote vocabulary
    development build background knowledge.
  • Directions
  • Hand out vocabulary cards to each group.
  • Have the group discuss their word. They will
    share their word with the other students.
  • After five minutes of small group discussion,
    each group will teach the other students the
  • Groups can exchange words.

Semantic Maps (Stahl Nagy, 2006)
  • Purpose To teach word meanings in relation to
    other words and to develop concepts builds
    background main idea and supporting details
  • Directions
  • Brainstorming The teacher and class brainstorm
    ideas that relate to the topic. The teacher might
    stop and explain some of the terms that the
    students come up with in a discussion forum.
  • Mapping These terms can be drawn into a map.
    To draw the map, the students, with assistance,
    would come up with 3 or 4 categories that
    describe the terms on the board and arrange them
    in a map.
  • Reading After the map is complete, the students
    and teacher read a book or selection about the
  • Completing the Map After reading, teachers and
    students as a group discuss what they have
    learned from the reading.

Story Impressions
  • Purpose Builds background knowledge vocabulary
    pre-teaching story structure
  • Directions
  • Teacher writes main points and words in a list on
    an overhead or chart paper
  • Prior to reading and in groups, students develop
    a story using the words or phrases in exactly the
    order that they are on the list.
  • Students share stories with the rest of the
  • Students compare their stories with the actual
    story (Stahl Nagy, 2006).

Word Splash
  • Purpose Build Background Knowledge Vocabulary
    Development Discussion Story Structure
  • Directions
  • Select theme-related vocabulary from story
  • Select main points from story
  • Splash words on the board
  • Have students identify words they do not know
  • Have other students help clarify words
  • Working in groups, students will develop a story
    using as many of the words as possible
  • Students share their stories before the read aloud

Four Square Concept Map Stahl Nagy (2006) and
  • Purpose To produce the meaning of words, build
    background knowledge and maintain vocabulary
    knowledge and use after reading.
  • Directions
  • Provide text, a dictionary, target words and the
    student worksheet to the students. (example
  • Write the target word in the box labeled Word.
    (example soothing)
  • Give the students the definition of the word.
    This is not written down because it is meant to
    begin a conversation.
  • Discuss some examples of what the target word
    means and list the examples of the concept in the
    box labeled What are some examples? (examples
    bath, soft music, lying down, chocolate)
  • Ask the students for some things that are not
    examples of the target word. List the words in
    the box that is labeled What it is not like.
    (examples traffic, rap music, someone yelling)
  • Finally, ask the students to compose and discuss
    a definition for this concept then write it in
    the box that is labeled What is it? (example
    Something that is soothing relaxes you.)

Four Square Concept Map
  • How language abilities and background knowledge
    are related to oral and reading comprehension
  • How to activate prior knowledge and build
    background knowledge
  • How to use the themes and complex concepts in the
    core program to strengthen classroom discourse
  • How to facilitate discussion in your classroom
  • Learn vocabulary maintenance activities

After Reading
  • Revisit words following the Beck model
  • Discussion/Handing Off
  • Theme wall/concept wall/concept-question board

  • Purpose Develop discussion skills develop
    vocabulary and concept understanding.
  • Directions
  • The teacher will begin with an open-ended theme
    related question (see slide 36).
  • Students raise their hands to participate in the
  • The teacher participates, but does not dominate
    the discussion.
  • You can use a ball, stuffed animal, koosh ball,
    etc. to identify the speaker and the others can
    hand-off to continue the discussion.
  • The teacher continues to pose questions to
    facilitate the discussion.

Building a Theme Wall or Concept-Question Board
  • Purpose To promote vocabulary development
    build background knowledge maintain learned
  • Directions
  • Find the unit theme usually a big concept(s)
  • Find the theme of the story how is it related
    to the unit theme?
  • Find additional Tier 2 vocabulary related to
    themes may not be stated
  • Teach meanings before, during, after reading
  • Expand understanding/maintain vocabulary
  • Theme wall place words on a permanent wall
  • Other texts (read aloud or in centers)
  • Multiple opportunities for students to use

Setting for Discussion
  • Students should be facing one another
  • Everyone should make group discussion rules
  • See ELA Standards 1 and 2 for Rules
  • Teacher should sit WITH students as part of the
  • Teacher opens the discussion with starter
    comments about selection using new and previously
    learned concept or theme language (next slide)
  • Teacher gives signal to participate in discussion

Using the Words Question Stems For Discussion
  • Why is the story about peer pressure?
  • How did the character show acceptance?
  • Scaffold at first How did Pee Wee show Jackie
    acceptance? How did Jackie respond? What would
    you do?
  • How did Jackie change from the beginning to the
    end of the story?
  • What was Jackie like at the beginning of the
    story? How did he change?

During discussion Make connections
  • Make connections among past stories
  • Make connections with personal experiences
  • Make connections with other content areas
  • Keep the words posted throughout school year and
    revisit often

Support for ELL and Low-Language Learners
  • Using the story Teammates
  • Which topics or concepts need additional
  • Are there additional words that you need to
  • Are there activities you can do to support

Suggestions for the ELL and Low Language Learner
  • Pre-teach
  • Re-teach
  • Introduce topic with easier materials
  • Pictures
  • Concept Maps
  • Read-alouds with same topic/concept/theme

  • How language abilities and background knowledge
    are related to oral and reading comprehension
  • How to activate prior knowledge and build
    background knowledge
  • How to use the themes and complex concepts in the
    core program to strengthen classroom discourse
  • How to facilitate discussion in your classroom
  • Learn vocabulary maintenance activities

After Reading and Throughout the Year
  • Maintenance Activities
  • Four Square concept map
  • Gradable antonyms
  • Multiple meanings
  • Charades
  • Guess that word
  • Finish the story
  • Fly Swatter
  • Handing Off

Multiple Meanings (Stahl Nagy, 2006)
  • Purpose to enable the students to adjust the
    meanings of words to fit a new context.
  • Directions
  • Display word cards and sentence cards
  • Read the sentence card saying blank where there
    is a space. (example My uncle works in a ten
    ____ building.)
  • Find the word that completes the sentence.
    (example story) Read the sentence with the word
    in it. Note each word will have two sentences.
  • State what the word means (example story means
    floor of a building)
  • Continue until all words have two sentences.

Charades Stahl Nagy (2006)
  • Purpose To get children engaged in learning
    word meanings that makes them think about the
    words in a way that helps them remember a words
  • Directions
  • Split the students into two four teams. Give
    each team a list of vocabulary words
  • Each team member will take turns acting out one
  • of the words on the list.
  • The first team to identify the word will get
  • a point.

Guess that Word
  • Purpose Forces student to use verbal
    descriptions while maintaining word use.
  • Directions
  • Teacher places vocabulary words on small slips of
  • Class is divided into teams.
  • A member draws a slip of paper from bag.
  • Team member describes the word to their team
    without using the word.
  • Students team will try to guess the word.
  • If they can, they get the point. If not, the
    other team gets a chance (Stahl Nagy, 2006).

Finish the Story
  • Purpose To maintain vocabulary use story
    structure oral language.
  • Directions
  • Distribute one to four vocabulary cards to the
  • Read the introduction of a story.
  • Students continue the story with what might
    happen using one or more of their words in a
    sentence. (GRADE Resource Library)

Fly Swatter
  • Purpose To maintain learned vocabulary.
  • Directions
  • Put vocabulary words randomly on an overhead
  • Form two teams and give each team a different
    colored fly swatter.
  • As you read the student friendly definition, the
    first two students in line will find and swat the
    correct word.
  • Continue until all students have had at least one

peer pressure
For the Next Time
  • From your core reading program choose the theme
    words you will be teaching for one unit theme.
  • Using the resource packet, develop before
    reading, discussion, and maintenance lessons for
    each story in the unit theme.
  • On the recording sheet, record the words, the
    activities and your observations. These
    observations will be shared at the next Regional

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