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Friday 11 September 2015

posted 10 Sep 2015, 20:35 by Stephanie Williams   [ updated 17 Sep 2015, 19:28 ]
Talk - The Foundation of Literacy

Wilkinson (1965) introduced the term 'oracy' as a way for people to think about the role that oral language plays in literacy development, defining it as "the ability to express oneself coherently and to communicate freely with others by word of mouth". Wilkinson noted that the development of oracy would lead to increased skill in reading and writing as users of the language became increasingly proficient - as James Britton (1983) put it so eloquently, "Reading and writing float on a sea of talk." (From Conversations by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey and Carol Rothenberg.)

In teacher professional development this year with Murray Gadd, this quote has been reiterated often. We can get so hung up on getting a piece of writing 'done'..... the slowing down, the exploring language, taking the time to talk.....can be rushed and, at best, fair to middling. Children (and teachers and parents) need permission to have fun with words and to take time, discover..... smell the roses!  It's not about 'filling the exercise book or churning out another GoogleDoc'!

I applaud the teachers for the open and respectful way they have approached their professional learning. There are not many professions where you are expected to discuss the fine details of your thinking and planning, share your personal goals, then teach writing to your groups while being observed by two colleagues, plus Murray, an internationally recognised consultant with a PhD in children's writing development!  Following the writing session, teachers receive explicit feedback and recommendations from their colleagues, known as 'triples',  and Murray. This occurs termly and every few weeks teachers check in with their 'triples' as to what progress they and their children are making. It is intense!

Children are expected to talk and be given plenty of opportunities to talk. As teachers we try and limit the amount we talk to allow children greater space to explore language for themselves. Stopwatches can help at times!

Will hopefully see many of you at the Disco tonight. Thanks in advance to all of those helping out - you are the treasure!