Teaching for the 21st Century: Oracy lessons

Teaching students how to take turns and talk, express opinions and ideas politely, challenge ideas, public speaking and other speaking activities are vital for communicating effectively  in life and the development of social skills. They are skills  which are as important as literacy and numeracy, especially in this digital age where conversation can often be lacking in favour of social networking or texting.  Peter Hyman, School 21 cofounder and executive head teacher, supports this move and says, “We need to elevate speaking to the same level as reading and writing.”  



Using movies to inspire writing

I have posted before about one of my favourite literacy sites The Literacy Shed which has lots of ideas for using movies to inspire writing.  I recently came across Video Writing Prompts at the Teacher Hub which has an excellent collection of videos which can be used as lesson warm-ups or to promote writing in many ways such as essay writing, reflecting, critical thinking, comparing and questioning – there are many ways to use the videos! Ideas for different writing tasks are given for different year levels.  Videos are undoubtedly a valuable tool to add to engage and motivate young writers.

Inferencing skills

Inferencing skills are an important foundational skill and a prerequisite for higher-order thinking (Marzano 2010).    The understanding that  information is not stated literally but is implied improves skills in drawing conclusions. However,  many students struggle with this concept and using Question-Answer-Relationship (QAR) will assist their understanding.

Using a text, four types of questions can be asked:

1. Answer is right there: Answers are in the text using the same words as in the question

2. Think and search: Answers are in different parts of the text and put together to identify meaning .

3. Author and You: Information is provided in the text and the reader draws on their own experience to provide a response.

4. On Your Own: Prior knowledge is used to answer a question.

How to use QAR is described in more detail here.

Some excellent inferential worksheets are available here.



Apps for Developing Literacy Skills

Although there appear to be a plethora of apps for literacy, I had difficulty finding suitable age appropriate ones for low level literacy learners in high school.  Most of the apps I came across were aimed towards much younger learners.   I was hoping that as more apps came on the market, someone, somewhere would develop something which would excite me.

Well it has happened!  On one one of my favourite literacy  blogs, Mr P’s ICT, (thanks Mr P, I’ve used lots of your ideas), I came across mention of Alan Peat’s literacy resources.  On further investigation of references to Alan Peat’s resources, I discovered Alan Peat pocket app of exciting sentences (great teacher resource) as well as an app for interactive student use  Exciting Sentences Pupil Edition.  These apps are well worth the few dollars they cost.

To find out all about Alan Peat’s Exciting Sentences, google it and you’ll get a pdf of what they are about.

Other great apps from Alan Peat include:

The Alan Peat Pocket Punctuation App, a great teacher resources which has very clear teaching strategies and resources including tasks can be viewed on an interactive whiteboard for student participation.  Again, cost is only a few dollars. Amazing value for the content it provides.

Alan also has a series of story machine apps for story planning, including, The Science Fiction Story Machine,  Writing Gruesome Ghost Stories and The Fairytales Story Machine.  You can read more about them here.

Digital learning is so much fun!

Ipads in the Classroom – One Second Every Day

I am always inspired by Mr P’s ICT Blog and his use of ipads in the classroom. The latest app I will be trying out when we return to school is One Second Every Day which is a fantastic way to share events over a period of time.  It can be used both at home and in the classroom for capturing every day events which when put together create a video showing changes over a period of time. What a great way to capture those developmental stages of childhood as well as a synopsis of a school year or other special events.

Sound in the classroom

I have written before about using music in the classroom.  I have been following a thread on one of my networks which has been discussing should we allow music in the classroom? Many schools have a ban on those little white buds which hang from students’ ears.  Should we allow students to listen to music that is beneficial for their learning?    Julian Treasure, ‘The four way sound affects us’ talks about how music affects us.  Although this video is aimed at businesses, it holds great relevance for education and learning.

1. Physiological – it affects our breathing, heart rate and brain waves.

2. Psychological – that which affects our emotions and cognitively, for example, we can’t listen to two people talking at once or listen well if there is a lot of background noise.  Productivity in open plan offices is 66 percent less than in a quiet room. However, if you had a set of headphones that is playing soothing music, your productivity in that noisy space will increase.

3. Behavioural: we want to move away from unpleasant sounds to pleasant sounds.  Ie noisy to quiet.

Julian goes on to state that music is the most powerful sound there is. Watch the video and see if it changes your mind about students listening to music in the classroom.

The four ways sound affects us.

Also read George Lozanov’s music for improved learning.