If you can get kids to speak paragraphs and even short essays, writing is so much simpler. I need to practice using wait time so kids have a chance to prepare their sentences. This was a great webcast. I am so glad I watched it. I tuned into the first week goals webcast yesterday and this was on the list. I said to myself that I just had to watch this video because writing is going to be a huge part of my class this upcoming year.
In Texas, we have a state assessment in writing in 4th grade. I am told that we are responsible for bringing their writing up to par, because the younger grades don’t always do it justice. I know the truth in that. Unfortunately, there is never enough time in the day when you are working against yourself. I am going to change that in my classroom this year by using WBT techniques. I am very excited.
After I finished watching the webcast, I immediately posted a link to this video on my Facebook page. I tagged a teacher in my building from very grade level. I am hoping they will take a look, come ask me about it, and begin to use oral writing in their classrooms.
These are my notes for implementing oral writing:
- Teach your students that every question you ask must be answered with a complete sentence. Be consistent!!!
- Teach the wrong way to answer questions first (one or two words)
- Teach the right way to answer all questions (complete sentences). The answer must repeat part of the question. I am going to let my students know that I expect intelligent speaking in my classroom. The slang and incomplete sentences they use outside of the classroom doesn’t belong in academics. I want to give them the sense of the right time and place.
- If they forget to answer with a complete sentence just smile, cup your hand behind your ear, and say, “I didn’t hear your complete sentence.” It becomes a silent prompt.
- Teach kids to add a detail sentence to their answer, called an adder. The cue is spinning your fingers like a wheel.
- The answer to the question is the topic sentence. Everything else develops the idea.
- Teach kids to add a conclusion after adders, called a concluder. The cue is waving one hand above the other like “safe!”
- Say in conclusion or to sum up or finally with air comma (zoop!)
We need to do this hundreds of times before they will consistently transfer it to their writing. I am really in love with this. When I was in school, I always knew what “sounded” right when it came to sentences and grammar. Most of my students don’t have that, because the language they hear is not even close to correct. I am really going to focus on this every day.
If a student doesn’t know what to say next, they just say help me (throw their arms up) and everybody else can give suggestions. It is a continuous safety net in the classroom. The kids listen to the suggestions and then finish their sentence with one of the suggestions or something that comes to them.
Whatever you want in writing, think of a gesture, and get the kids to orally practice. That way we get lots of practice and train the brain.
If an adder is off topic, show them the bungee jump off topic routine. Walk your fingers down your arm, when a sentence is off topic leap them off your arm and shout, “Aiiii! Off topic!” Then bring them back to show they need to bring their sentence back on topic
This is another one of those, “Why didn’t I think of that?” moments. I mean really? It is so simple, yet perfect. I know this will make a huge difference in my student’s writing. I just have to commit to teaching and using it daily.
I love the high five switch! Divide the class into ones and twos. Number one starts, prompts herself, and gets through it. Number two is mirroring her gestures. When one is finished, she high fives two and they switch roles. Kids can use oral writing as a pre-writing exercise with each other. I think I will find myself saying, “Talk through it so you can write through it.”
Oral writing is all about higher order thinking and I love that. This is going to stretch my student’s brains and get them thinking in new ways. Once we get this down as a group, I really want to have my class do this with a partner daily. This will help with writer’s block. It will get them thinking about how to start writing from a prompt and develop several coherent paragraphs without breaking a sweat. Isn’t that wonderful?
I am hoping this will really show them the link between speaking and writing. Telling a story orally is easy because we do it all the time. We just have to treat our writing the same way. We first generate our thoughts, use oral writing techniques, and then put it all on paper. I can’t wait to share this with my colleagues and students!