Teachers of English know that the standards for language arts include more than literature and writing. We are responsible for language standards of conventions, vocabulary, and grammar as well as speaking and listening learning goals. When I was teaching high school English, our Professional Learning Community (PLC) would often discuss ways to integrate the conventions standards into our teaching of writing to ensure those standards were met. When it came to speaking and listening, however, many of my peers were reluctant. Partly because the idea of giving speeches gave them hives, and partly because they really enjoyed the study of literature in college and found joy in helping students navigate challenging texts. It is natural that we will focus on the areas of ELA in which we feel most confident.
As a speech coach, I not only knew the value of the strand of speaking, listening, and viewing, I also understood that students needed explicit instruction and practice if they were going to master these standards. And since I had benefitted from the confidence I developed in my own speaking skills, I was intent on supporting students as they worked to overcome their own fears.
More than ever, our youth need support in developing their communication skills. Here are three practical ways to intentionally support the forgotten strand of speaking and listening in your ELA classes.
1 Use Talk Moves
Talk moves are tools to help students participate in large and small group discussions effectively and respectfully. Talk moves are essential sentence frames we can provide to our students to help them engage in more rigorous academic discourse.
Providing anchor charts on the wall or bookmarks on the desks can really help students to use talk moves during their conversations. I found this Edutopia video helpful in illustrating how to use these sentence frames with students.