The saying ‘If students can’t say it, they certainly can’t write it’ resonated clearly with me, especially when teaching in the heart of South Wales under the shadows of the TATA Steelworks. As teachers, we become accustomed to the chatter of children throughout the day. So we know our students spend a lot of time talking, but have you actually taken a moment to listen to what they’re saying, and how they’re saying it?
Oracy is one of the first literacy skills a student develops, and yet somehow, as a child progresses through the years in school, we tend to prioritise writing and reading over this essential foundation – oracy! Whilst this is a natural progression, it’s really important to keep the talk going!
20 major international studies have shown that the quality of talk within classrooms directly reflects upon the standards of writing that the students produce. It is for this reason that, every lesson that we teach, and around the school even in our incidental conversations, we should model a wide range of vocabulary, a variety of sentence structures and subject specific words which challenge and engage our students, forcing them to ask – what does that mean?
Certainly as a KS2 practitioner, we are modelling language (and behaviour!) all of the time! Now, let me acknowledge the pressures on teachers currently – achieve the lesson objective, include numeracy skills, literacy skills, some digital skills as well, oh and while you’re at it, if you could include any other cross curricular skills, that would be great! It’s a big ask. However, in my experience, the use of technology to develop oracy in my classroom was instrumental in improving standards of oracy (first!) and in turn, writing.
Cloud based systems such as OneDrive, Google Drive, or the app Seesaw allow children to independently communicate their thoughts and feelings, and store them in a secure environment. Often, those students who may be reluctant to engage in a group or class setting will talk for hours when you give them an iPad to record themselves!
So my top tips for using technology to improve oracy are:
1. Allow students time to ‘play’ with apps, before actually using them in a lesson.
2. Encourage a ‘Talk Rich’ environment and schedule time to engage in deep discussion.
3. Give students real life experiences (don’t just talk about making a sandwich – actually make one!) for them to talk and write about.
4. Use the power of photographs and videos – get students to record their own experiences for more meaningful recall.
In my experience, creating short instructional based videos saw improvements in the standard of writing, especially with students who found writing challenging. Having the ability to recall the videos they recorded themselves, and rewatch them as many times as they deemed necessary provided a safe environment for them to develop their oracy, and writing further. Check out the full ‘Developing Oracy & Writing with iPad’ course here.
For an example written text on the above video, please click here!