Oral language Assessment
The Oral Language Assessment provides information in regards to students’ use of oral language in the classroom. This assessment is useful for teachers and parents, because it is a means of tracking progress in students’ development of oral language. Through the use of this the Oral Language Assessment, both teachers and parents gain a greater understanding of how children comprehend and apply language in various settings. Teachers can use information gained from this assessment to tailor group and individual instruction, thus, meeting student needs. In order to assess oral language in the classroom, I used the Oral Language Functions: Classroom Observation checklist found in Owocki and Goodman’s Kidwatching: Documenting Children’s Literacy Development on page 110. I found the best way to observe students’ oral language was to closely watch their interactions throughout the day. I kept these assessment tools close by and checked off each oral language function as it appeared in the classroom. I also recorded in what context certain functions occurred. The classroom that I observed for this assessment was a kindergarten classroom containing 21 students. The classroom environment is modeled after the Responsive Classroom. Students are encouraged to build a classroom community that provides both academic and social support its members. During group lessons, students work closely with the teacher to learn new material or review prior knowledge. In these large group lessons, students are encouraged to share opinions and make connections to people and things around them. In learning centers, students interact with their peers to solve
problems and share ideas. Learning centers allow students to be more independent and use oral language in a somewhat less structured manner. Findings from my assessment show, that various functions of oral language are consistently present throughout the day. At the start of the day, morning meeting allows students to develop their oral language abilities in a few different ways. Each day the students are presented with a morning message. The students read the morning message aloud with the teacher and fill in missing words. Some students are given the opportunity of identifying the missing word and explain to the class how they knew it was missing. The meteorologist holds a microphone and announces the weather and season to the class. The calendar student recites the date aloud to the class and points to the date. All of these jobs are examples of oral language being used in a common classroom activity. During large group instruction, students are given the opportunity to use oral language while learning new information. During math lessons and interactive read alouds, students answer the teacher’s questions about a topic and share their own ideas. The teacher often asks questions such as: “what do you think will happen next?” or “How do you think this character might feel and how do you know?” Students respond by using oral language functions such as: expressing points of view, responding to questions and expressing emotional identification. After large group lessons, students work on activities at their assigned tables. Students use oral language to ask questions about things that they are struggling with. Students who are familiar with a topic typically take a leadership role by instructing other students at their table. Students learn to collaborate and solve problems as a group rather than asking an adult.
At the end of the day, students are allowed to participate in choice time activities. Students typically choose to draw pictures or cards for teachers and friends. Many students also enjoy playing with blocks and math manipulatives. The students who sit at tables and draw do not use oral language much during choice time. However, they retell events by drawing events that happen in the classroom throughout the day. Some students draw favorite story characters from their library books, and tell friends about what they are reading. The students who play with blocks and dolls use oral language in imaginative or pretend play. The student who I observed individually, was a 5-year-old kindergartener named Sreeja. While observing in the classroom, I notice that sreeja loves to share stories with her friends and teachers. During choice time, on the day of my observation, Sreeja told me the story of Beauty and the Beast. Sreeja told the story by flipping through her library book and explaining the pictures. Although Sreeja’s book was far beyond her reading level, she was able to retell the entire story through the use of picture cues and sight words. Sreeja was able to explain whom each character was, how the characters fit into the story and how characters felt. Sreeja was also able to communicate her favorite parts of the story and what characters she liked the best. Sreeja was able to express feelings, empathy and emotional identification while retelling the story of Beauty and the Beast. For example, when Belle’s father is taken prisoner by the beast, Sreeja said, “ Belle must feel really bad that her dad is gone!” By observing Sreeja, I also learned that she loves to retell events. Sreeja was very excited to tell me about the 100th day celebration she had in class. Sreeja was able to describe the various activities that she did with her friends to celebrate. I noticed that
Sreeja was very organized in the way that she retold the events of 100th day. Sreeja started at the very beginning of the day when she put on her special party dress for school. Sreeja’s story ended when Mrs. Chiavaroli gave the class a “so delicious” 100th day trail mix at the end of the day. While I was observing writers workshop, Sreeja told me about her “how-to” book. Sreeja was able to explain how to get ready for a vacation. Sreeja read me a multi-page book that she wrote on the topic. Sreeja’s explanation was very organized and included specific details about how to pack a suitcase and get on a plane. Sreeja’s explanation was accompanied by illustrations that supported her topic. During writers workshop, I was also able to observe Sreeja taking a leadership role in the classroom. Sreeja was able to give verbal instructions to friends at her table who had questions about their writing. For example, Sreeja was able to help one of her friends stretch out the word “house”. During a whole group read aloud, Sreeja expressed her enjoyment for language play. As the teacher read The Cat in the Hat, sreeja loved listening for rhyming words and filling in missing rhyming words. Although Sreeja demonstrated many of the oral language functions, not all of the functions were present. I did not observe sreeja creating imaginative worlds in class. During choice time many students participate in pretend play at the “house center”. Sreeja always chooses to independently draw at choice time. Sreeja’s drawings always depict realistic events or topics such as her family or at school. Completing this assessment was very beneficial to my growth as an educator. It made me think of how to promote oral language in my own classroom someday. One thing that I observed that I would love to implement in my own classroom was morning
meeting. Having a morning meeting sets the tone regarding oral language use in the classroom. Students and teachers start the day by conversing about important topics, expressing opinions, and building community. One thing that I would spend more time developing in my classroom is imaginative play. During choice time I would provide students with more variety regarding imaginative play opportunities. For example, if students are learning about dental hygiene in social studies I would provide relevant pretend play toys. This will allow students to develop oral language skills by creating imaginative worlds and reviewing content.