The Prim-Ed Integrated Oral Language Program is going to be an absolute life-saver for any teacher who is wise enough to use it to its fullest potential this coming year!
I intend on having it as a go to for my Oral Language lessons as its structured approach will keep me on target to engage the children in my class in each of the learning outcomes proposed in the Primary Language Curriculum. I will supplement the program by including stories and pictures books to flesh out the themes and topics being explored and to ensure the children have a context for each unit in the program. All of the themes fit really well with the Aistear framework and also can be integrated into EAL teaching.
To give a brief overview of the program itself is very difficult as it is jam packed with best practice approaches and methodologies. The 25 unit program centres its activities on a theme depicted in a child friendly engaging oral-language poster, either a real-life scenario or a cartoon illustration. The unit of work in the teacher manual has seven follow up activities which throughout the course of the year, hit on all of the learning outcomes from the curriuclum. Each of the programmes from Junior Infants to Second Class have been laid out in a similar manner.
I have been using the Second Class program in my own room these past weeks and included the program in my long term planning for Oral Language. In doing so, I have hit-on all of the fourteen Learning Outcomes from the old version of the new PLC!!!
The Second Class program is split into 25 units of work – plenty to get you through the entire year. Each unit is based around a theme or topic for example, a classroom from the past or a fairy garden, a trip to the dentist or at the zoo, just to name a few.
Each unit follows the same lay out and has a range of materials to teach an engaging and inclusive oral language lesson. The thematic poster is accompanied by a list of suggested vocabulary, a set of suggested activities ( usually six or seven activiites, all of which are fully linked to the learning outcomes of the Primary Language Curriculum) and a table of integrated cross-curricular activities which allow for thematic planning. In addition to this, there are work-sheets, visuals and additional digital elements to most lessons. I could continue to list the resources and tools included in each unit, however there are too many to name here!!!
How I used the program in my classroom:1. First of all, I have updated my long term plans for Oral Language in English and Gaeilge, History, Geography and Science, SPHE and Visual Arts to include many of the units of work or relevant activities which link nicely to the subject areas and learning outcomes for my class. Where possible, I have also supplemented each topic with a corresponding picture book or story related to the theme to provide context, sample sentence structure etc for the vocabulary and themes being explored. 2. Secondly, in advance of teaching the unit of work, I have been sending home the list of suggested vocabulary to the parents of the children in my class, especially focusing on those childrne with EAL or SEN as part of the child’s homework. I have asked the parents to explain the words to the children in their native language and ensure they have a foundational understanding of the vocabulary so when we are covering it in class so that they can bootstrap the new english vocabulary to their existing knowledge. I have adapted some of the word lists to include additional words from related stories I have researched. Also, I have added in extra Tier 2 words especially for my native english speakers and children who I am trying to stretch a little.3. When I am starting the topic I talk through the language and vocabulary and display these on a topic board. I then use a story or picture book related to the theme to provide a context for the topic. For example in the unit Classroom from the Past (SESE – history), we read a section of a story from an SESE book about a child attending school in the past. Afterwards, we warm up the topic using the suggested questions supplied in the teacher manual along with the digital poster. These questions allow the children a chance to develop their thinking skills, to work collaboratively and engage prior knowledge. This is a great opportunity to practice the vocabulary and practically use the language and skills leanred, in a meaningful manner. 4.The initial activity in most units is a vocabulary activity, which is easily transferable regardless of the theme (e.g. Word Wheel, Simon Says, Mystery Box etc). I have found these very effective and I will continue to use the same vocabulary activity until they are confident and comfortable in running the activity independently in small groups with the aim of the activity being transferred and applied to other cross-curricular vocabulary lists. I have also been using the same approaches in my Gaeilge activities to reinforce and consolodiate new vocabulary. 5. During additional language sessions, I have been using some of the more constructivist activities e.g. the children interview each other, role play activities, voice recordings etc. In reality, I found it very difficult to get through the seven activities that accompany each unit, so I hope to revisit these activities to revise and consolidate the words, meanings and the use of the vocabulary independently throughout the year. The seven activities allow for plenty of choice and huge opportuniteis to keep language lessons fresh and engaging. 6.Finally, for assessment, I have been using a range of the approaches suggested in the program especially the self-assessment and conferencing strategies. The program provides a wide range of suggested assessment approaches, which are highly useful and would be greatly beneficial for all teachers to use. I have particularly focused on the conferning approach discussed in the manual as it really allows additonal opportunities to build langage skills.
I have really loved using the program in my class so far and I am really look forward to continuing to implement it during the coming year. The children in my class have really engaged well with the activities and are excited for oral language sessions which have finally found a structure that I can confidently say is effective and ticking all the boxes for good practice. I am confident that this program along with the supplements I have made, will make a hugely positive impact on the language development of all the children in my class throughout this coming year.