Think Fast

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The goal of writing instruction is to improve students’ ability to produce cohesive and coherent written discourse. However, effective writing has been shown to be dependent upon verbal working memory.  In addition, this goal presupposes that students have the language resources to support the written expression of their ideas.

Oral language acquisition is a naturally occurring process for most children.  However, for many children the ability to speak with fluency and clarity is a skill which requires specific instruction and practise.  To speak with fluency and clarity, students need to be able to organise their thinking and express their ideas in a logical sequence, using grammatically correct sentences which incorporate a wide range of vocabulary.  These oral language skills provide the foundation for logical and clear written expression.

Oral language and written language are inextricably linked.  If you do not have the ability to express your ideas orally, you will not be able to express your ideas in writing.  Similarly, if grammatical errors occur in speech they are going to be reproduced in the written form.  In fact, research indicates that students who have developed refined oral language skills are better able to produce high levels of written discourse and are more likely to achieve academic success.  More specifically, the research indicates a significant positive correlation between oral and written word usage, word quantity, and sophistication of grammar.

Listed below are some ideas for developing children’s oral language skills and the ability to think quickly. Try to integrate these activities into different parts of the day, for example, while you are driving, sitting at the dinner table or as a part of your child’s bedtime routine. It is also important that you help your child generate different ideas and help them show how one idea can be slightly modified to produce a new idea or that an idea used in a previous activity can be used in the current activity.

Oral Language Activities

Think Fast:

Choose any common item and think of as many different and creative ways of using that item.  For example, a shoe could be filled with soil and used as a pot plant, or filled with concrete and used as a door stop, it could be used as a bat or a ball, it could be a house for an ant or painted and used as a decoration.

Two Sides:

There are two sides to every argument.  Think of different topics and take it in turns to think of reasons to support both sides of the argument. This is a good strategy to use when your child wants something that you are not prepared to buy or allow them to do.  It is important that you both contribute to both sides of the argument so the child can see you have considered the requested in a balanced and reasonable manner.

Weigh it Up:

Most decisions have costs (financial, time, emotional) and benefits.  Together think of as many costs and benefits as you can for different scenarios.  Again, this is actually a good strategy to use to help the child make decisions which require a choice.

Pros and Cons:

This activity is similar to ‘Weigh it Up’. In making a decision, it is useful to consider the pros (the positive outcomes) and the cons (the negative outcomes).   Some facts are neither positive nor negative.  They are just an interesting observation. Think of unusual scenarios to practise this skill.  For example: Everyone should die their hair green.

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