Until children reach three years old, they lack the communication skills to express their feelings, say what they are thinking, share a new idea and solve conflicts in the classroom. In this blog, we are sharing five language modeling tips with Osceola County teachers on how to improve communication with your developing students through complex language modeling and better prepare you for the CLASS Assessment.
What is language modeling?
Language modeling is a great tool for teachers to use with developing students as well as those who are struggling to communicate. The main goal is to increase the amount of talking kids do by familiarizing them with a more complex language modeling in the classroom.
How to use language modeling in the classroom
It’s important for kids to handle their conversations on their own but they may need a little help along the way. Let’s take a look at some language modeling exercises and examples you can implement in your teaching and help during a CLASS Assessment:
Tip 1: Provide children with opportunities to work and learn with others in small group activities.
- In these activities, model how to use group strategies like careful listening, looking at the person who is talking, and asking and answering questions.
- Example: Ask the students to play a game where they ask teacher questions. This allows them to choose a topic of interest and you can continue the conversation. “My favorite color is purple, what is your favorite color?” “My favorite color is blue like the sky because I like to be outside. What do you like to do outside?”
Tip 2: “Listen in” to conversations.
- Be ready to provide language models when students don’t know how to express themselves. While children are interacting with you and each other, see if there are ways to improve a student's communication skills.
- Example: Mary, say, “Dylan, I would like to use the pink crayon.”
Tip 3: Act out situations for problem-solving.
- Talking through a problem or conflict helps children build cooperative negotiation skills, while role-playing can also be a fun exercise to help them learn ways to interact.
- Example: I have an idea. We could cut the pizza into three pieces. Who has another idea?
Tip 4: Create a conversation without one-word responses.
- When students are struggling to express themselves, it's easy for them to revert to a one-word answer. Create an environment where you ask students open-ended questions to have them talking and elaborating on their ideas.
- Example: “Susie, tell me more about this picture you are drawing and what’s happening?”
Tip 5: Use advanced language.
- At this age, children are sponges wanting to learn as much as they can about the world around them, it just may be difficult for them to understand exactly what is going on. When talking about new things be sure to make it familiar to something they already know.
- Example: When a caterpillar makes a chrysalis to become a butterfly it's like when you wrap your blankets around you so you grow while you sleep!
When observing for language modeling in the classroom, here are a few key things to ask yourself:
- How successful am I at getting my students talking? Not that much? Kind of? Very?
- Is there a good balanced conversation between my students and I?
- Are the interactions I observed really conversations or just strings of questions and answers (i.e., question-answer-question-answer-question-answer)?
After your self-reflection, if your students spoke as much as you did, then you’re on the right track! When needed, show examples and provide support so that conversations are not just a back and forth string of questions and answers.