Oral language is a critical part of the FDK program. Oral language is integrated into every aspect of the program to ensure children have a solid base for communicating their thoughts and ideas, develop comprehension skills, building social skills, and developing a good foundation for literacy.
Early on in September we begin expose children to letters and the associated sounds. Each board has different programs, but I follow the Jolly Phonics program. I collect assessment data late September/October to identify their oral language skills (OLA), letter and sound recognition, as well as DRA for SK. This will give me a good baseline to see where I need to plan, who needs further support in either small or large group.
Literacy blocks should include a combination of read aloud-supporting literacy strategies like retell, making connections, building comprehension, and gaining word knowledge; shared reading-emphasizing concepts of print like left to right, word by word reading http://www.eworkshop.on.ca/edu/core.cfm?p=modView.cfm&navID=modView&L=1&modID=8&c=2&CFID=11025755&CFTOKEN=e54e83faef4b802e-0E4CA749-1CC4-BC29-7C7D49BB15698087&jsessionid=f0307be8216bbe5ec1613b546519116024d1
independent reading where children have an opportunity to explore books of various genres either in the reading centres, during transition times, or in various centres.
A focus on letters and sounds is integrated into the literacy block so students can acquire these skills to develop a strong foundation for reading and writing.
The picture below shows a variety of books with some ideas on how they could fit into a reading block with a teaching focus.
There is a look at at variety of reading strategies that can be integrated into the literacy block. In the read alouds we are modelling for the students and building on their comprehension. Graphic organizers like a Go-Chart gives a visual of Charcters, Setting, Plot, Events, and ending.
Other ideas to include are the retell glove, working on schema, predicting, confirming, thinking about beginning, middle, end; asking what is your favourite part, sequencing, or comparing characters gets the children talking about books.
In essence, we want to move children along to become independent readers. This is a sample of ideas to include in a literacy block around reading. Responding to reading about their favourite part, connections, etc. also solidifies their learning and comprehension skills. Writing will be the next blog focusing on the literacy block.
On the site there is a great list of read alouds http://1000moments.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/List-of-books-in-200-format-FINAL.pdf suggested by teachers. There is a picture of the book and a comment about what it can be used for. There is a whole range of books that can help you begin your planning for the new year. Also, if you have a book you can submit the information to be added to the list! http://earlylearningcentral.ca/?page_id=424 . You can also access this information under the tab across the top called “Resources”.
The Thinking it Through document has great examples of classroom centres, reflective questions, ideas for materials, and documentation and assessment ideas to capture what the children are learning. Some of the biggest huddles in getting started are; “Where do I start?, How do I make it happen?,and What should it look like in my classroom?” I have organized some ideas below to help you get started. For Grades 1-3, Primarily Play is a great document that describes how to set-up learning centres for independent inquiry and documentation. http://earlylearningcentral.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/settinglearningcentres.pdf .
Where do I start? We need to begin from where the students are at. Sometime this is difficult, so we need to get them started. I am going to refer back to my idea of the “Community and Environment”. This is discussed in the curriculum expectations and is great to start off the year. So, how do we incorporate this Big Idea into a centre?
Making it happen: Organize and place the materials in the Science Centre from the walk or some items that children brought from home (rocks, leaves, sticks, pine cones etc). You will need to tell the children your expectations for the centre before they use it, introduce what they will find, and also add items like books, paper, crayons, magnifying glasses. Dedicate some wall space to hang their writing, pictures, and add your photos and some of their oral conversations. Prepare how your going to document the learning that is happening. http://earlylearningcentral.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/documentingthroughplay.pdf
What should it look like? As facilitators, you can invite children to sort the materials and explain their thinking, use open-ended questions to stimulate their creative thinking, and allow them to share and talk! Some learning outcomes could be; their ability to sort (Math), development of oral language/vocabulary, and Science-explore and investigate. While they are exploring the centre take your clipboard with you and document what they are saying and take pictures. You may want to use a checklist. You may want to prepare 1 or 2 open-ended questions before hand and sticky note them to your clipboard this way both educators can capture the learning at anytime.
Making learning English as fun as possible can be vital for children.
Social activities with native English-speakers provide a relaxed opportunity for your child to hear English without the pressure of having to speak it. Participate in casual activities like dinners, barbecues or parties with native English-speakers on a regular basis. Allow your child to interact with both children and adults who speak English so your child can become more comfortable and less self-conscious in English-speaking environments. Set up play dates with other children who speak the same primary language as your child but are also learning English as a second language.
Make-believe is part of development for children. Children can be remarkably inventive and imaginative and they love to create fantasy worlds . They also use drama to recreate situations in their lives and to deal with everyday emotions. Children can use their imagination and feel more comfortable using the English they know in a dramatic play setting.
Other ideas to help make learning English more fun are:
• visual teaching aids like short films, photographs, posters and pictures
• drama, dialogue and poetry
• songs, music and rhymes
• dance and movement
• games and manual activities
Reading aloud regularly to a child teaches valuable language skills in any language. When trying to a child learn English as their second language, reading to him/her is one of the most important things you can do to help. As soon as you can, you should read books that are in English, as well as books that are in the child’s primary language. Some stories have been translated into English and other languages so you can read the same story to the child in both languages. This can provide added interest for the child and the opportunity to compare both languages.
For parents, you take advantage of story time at your local library or bookstore to make reading more engaging. Some playgroups also offer story time for parents and children to enjoy. Children can enjoy sitting with a group of other kids listening to a story, and hearing English spoken by a variety of different native voices can also be helpful. This is a great option for parents who do not speak English well themselves. Children may also have the chance to participate in choosing books to take home from these various story times, which in turn will make him more enthusiastic about reading at home.
For parents and teachers, there are book series, internet sites and hundreds of other resources designed specifically for teaching children how to speak English. Lesson plans, games, story books and plays can be easily found on internet or in bookshops. You can create your own resources that are simple and easy to follow. Even the most unimaginative of adults can make up a short story that children can identify with.
Literacy does not only mean reading. It also involves language and writing skills. We use our literacy skills everyday. Several school boards have made literacy one of their top priorities. This has left many parents wondering how they can help their child(ren) with literacy skills at home. You should always read about your child(ren)’s age and what is developmentally appropriate for that age, before trying ideas with them.
Some simple ideas are:
- read at home (ask child questions, have child tell you a word, take turns reading)
- board games
- rhyming words games or the Name Game
- fridge magnets for younger children
- small blocks and playdough to promote fine motor skills for younger children
- create books by taking pictures and have the children write the stories or words
- scrapbooks for older children
- be an active & reflective listener, and model appropriate language
- older children can have a pen-pal from another country
- have your older child write a letter to their favourite author
- have your child bury a “treasure” and then create a map for you to find it
- visit your community’s public library
If you make literacy activities fun and exciting at home, your child’s love for reading, writing and language will continue to grow throughout their childhood.