The Power of Oral Language
First graders are so capable. They are at an age where their little brains are sponges – soaking up everything and anything they can learn. Writing instruction has always been a favorite of mine. It’s incredibly challenging. I’ve never taught it the same way from year to year. I add elements, throw out lessons, change techniques, change routines…it’s a never-ending cycle of figuring out what works best for my kids. Throughout all of the change, there is one standard I’ve held onto in my classroom every year:
We write a lot in my classroom.
Using Oral Writing in the Classroom
It started with Whole Brain Teaching. I “met” Farrah Shipley through the blogging world. She introduced me to a concept called oral writing. Lucy Calkins has called this style, “writing in the air”. Oral writing completely transformed the way I have approached writing instruction with my students. It not only transformed my thinking, my teaching, and my enthusiasm, but it transformed 21 little first graders as well. (Farrah, although I have told you this before, I cannot thank you enough, my friend!)
We started with a sentence. Well, rewind. We started with an oral sentence. Close your eyes and think of your classroom at the carpet during a discussion. How many times do you allow a student to answer you without using a complete sentence? Chances are, if you are like most, a million times a day. This is the secret to oral writing: When our students do not consistently speak in complete sentences, it becomes immensely difficult for them to not only form their thoughts into a complete sentence but then transfer that complete thought onto paper – with correct conventions and spelling!
Speaking in complete sentences, answering a question in a complete sentence, and explaining an idea or thought in a complete sentence is a rule in our room. We call it “college talk.”
It has worked miracles for my kids.
While I don’t have a video of oral writing to share with you, due to privacy, you can google Whole Brain Teaching Oral Writing videos on YouTube and find a plethora of videos to watch. When you watch them, you’ll see that the students are acting out their capital letters by raising their arms vertically. They are ending each sentence with a period by saying -Errrr!!! and pushing their hand out in front of them. These gestures are working in a powerful way to help students remember these important conventions:
Writing a Paragraph
We went on after Thanksgiving to write paragraphs, or what we call “a micro essay.” A micro essay is a 5 sentence paragraph that has a topic sentence, three detail sentences, and a conclusion sentence. I created this color-coded chart for my students:
Ready to Get Started With Oral Writing?
If you’re looking for a resource that will transform how your students think and speak in complete sentences, check out my Think, Talk, Teach resource in my TpT shop. It has three levels of difficulty and your students will be practicing essential oral language skills EVERYDAY in just a few minutes time! I promise that when your students can think and speak in complete sentences, it makes WRITING in complete sentences so much easier! Click HERE for my Think, Talk, Teach pack or click on the image below: