Oracy can appear to be a current buzz word. If it means public speaking, then, to me, it represents a small part of actual learning. If it means getting children to talk appropriately about what they are doing, developing their articulacy across a range of needs, I’m all in favour. In effect, this approach would be part of a long tradition in school, of getting children to externalise their thinking. As a classteacher, the tape recorder was well used to record thoughts, stories and discussions. This might be supplemented by paired writing, with one child articulating and the other scribing, with both editing after the first draft. As this was the time of large classes and before TAs, both methods were necessary.
The picture gallery above shows stages in the placement of a septic tank in a very small garden in France. The project required the creation of a 25-cubic metre “sand pit” into which the treated water from the septic tank could seep, to comply with regulations. The digger was a specialist machine, in that the shovel could be reversed to tip the earth over the wall into the waiting lorry. The plastic pipework is all very much hidden, and the earth has regrown into a useable grass area.
Following on from my last blog, looking at images as memory joggers for learning, I want to propose that, for some children, providing them with the essence of an activity will allow them to better articulate their own personal narrative from the activity. In many ways, it is supported report rehearsal for writing.
With digital photography having become a feature of many devices, to capture images through an activity is now so easy that children can do it for themselves; cameras and iPads are features of most classrooms.
While children are working on a task, an any subject, sequential photographs can be used to provide a record of their activity, through to final outcomes. In subjects such as PE, art, DT, science, outdoor activities of all kinds, image capture during activity can become memory prompts, which, for some children who might struggle with capturing their thoughts in writing after the activity, to have prompts which enable them to structure their articulation, ahead of writing, could be the difference between achievement and non-achievement. The photographic gallery is a scaffold, which can be supported by questioning to ascertain greater detail.
Where this approach became a more common feature of classroom life, children can use any activity as a stimulus for talk and writing. Rather than set up activity that becomes a stimulus for writing instructions; a common one is making a cup of tea, a slice of toast or perhaps a sandwich, why not ask children to create instructions for playing a sport, how to make a piece of 3D art, collage, clay, or perhaps how to get from one place in the school to another? Capture what they have been involved in, rather than setting up dissociated activities.
If the picture prompts are put out vertically, down the side of the page, they can be used to then create from one sentence to a short paragraph against each picture. If they can start with one sentence, they might be persuaded to try for a second, and so on…
Earlier, I wrote about using tape recorders. The iPad can be used as a voice capture machine, with the child or a TA acting as scribe afterwards, perhaps creating personal reading books for reluctant readers, to read their own stories.