Vocabulary development, Speaking and Listening and Drama
We recognise that having a broad vocabulary is a key area to develop. We aim to expose our children to a rich diet of vocabulary so that they build the language they can draw upon to communicate in both verbal and written forms. We recognise that reading is where we pick up the vast majority of our vocabulary as children and as adults, which is why this is a focus area. Together we strive to ensure children at St Francis Primary leave us with a wealth of vocabulary to draw upon in their next stage of education. We aim all pupils to leave St Francis Primary School as confident, social and imaginative individuals, with an understanding of performance and presentation skills.
Structures for teaching vocabulary development
One of the main reasons that vocabulary facilitates learning is that it allows comprehension of the content being studied; the greater a child’s vocabulary the easier they understand new content. Moreover, the greater their vocabulary the better they become at expressing their understanding.
Which vocabulary is most useful?
Here is the outline of a three tier framework for categorising words:
Tier 1: most basic words which typically appear in oral conversations, e.g. table, chair, girl, walk. Children are exposed to these words frequently, from a very young age, so readily become familiar with them.
Tier 2: words which are of high utility for mature language users and are found across a variety of subjects, e.g. precede, systematic, conclude. As these words are characteristic of written text, and used more rarely in conversation, children are less likely to learn the words independently.
Tier 3: Subject or topic specific words such as meander, photosynthesis and are best learnt when a specific need arises.
The focus within our teaching therefore, is on tier 2 and tier 3 words as they are unlikely to come up in everyday contexts. Across our curriculum these words are explicitly taught rather than caught in the course of everyday conversation.
A range of strategies are used to achieve this. Through a range of reading activities and by developing the love of reading both at home and at school we aim to extend our children's vocabulary. Our whole class reading lessons aim to extend our children's knowledge of tier 2 words and our knowledge rich topics aim to extend the children's understanding of tier 3 words. Each RE unit of work also begin with a discussion about the key vocabulary to be covered.
To ensure the children are acutely aware of the tier 3 words needed to understand the topic they are studying we have developed the stages of knowing words sheet for each unit of work.. These are shared with the children at the start of a topic and referred to throughout the topic and at the end.
Teachers ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language. We recognise that the quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are key factors in developing their vocabulary, grammar and understanding for reading and writing. Pupils develop a capacity to explain their understanding of books and poems, and to prepare their ideas prior to writing. They are assisted in making their thinking clear to themselves and to others and teachers will ensure they build secure foundations by using discussion to probe and remedy misconceptions. Pupils are taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate.
Structures for teaching oracy skills
Being able to verbally communicate is something that we focus on as a school – it is the first thing we learn and if we get that right in the early years: reading and writing will naturally follow. We provide as many opportunities as possible to promote speaking and listening throughout our curriculum from the very youngest children on their first day in the Nursery, to the very last day of Year 6.
Dynamic use of questioning and different types of questions allow the children at St Francis Primary to further improve their speaking skills. Teachers plan many activities within the week which allow the children to express themselves verbally from circle time discussions, hot seating and role play to high quality debates about topical issues. We encourage all children to speak in Standard English and make every attempt to correct grammatical errors in speech as this in turn will have a knock on effect on the quality of writing in school.
Teachers use a variety of collaborative activities to encourage exploratory talk and the use of different types of talking eg. developing, explaining, supporting, sequencing, providing a counter-argument, persuading and evaluating . These collaborative activities also help our learners to understand the importance of active listening.
- Pair or group discussions
- Working together on shared tasks, e.g. matching, sorting, ranking
- Activities with a competitive element/games, e.g. bingo
- Drama and role play
- Information exchange activities, including barrier games and jigsaw activities
We encourage our families to ensure that the children can discuss any of the exciting things that happen outside of school, during news time or when sharing achievements in praise assembly.
Parents can also help with oracy skills by discussing books or texts that you have read together so that the children can give a comprehensive and coherent account of what they have read. This is an area which encouraged across school from Nursey to Year 6.
Above all, please, just take time to talk. Ask the children the best thing that they have done at school that day. Ask them to describe a lesson that they enjoyed. Anything at all that gets them talking!
Structures for teaching Drama
We aim all pupils to leave St Francis Primary School as confident, social and imaginative individuals, with an understanding of performance and presentation skills.
Drama is outlined in the 2014 National Curriculum under the ‘Spoken Language’ section, which says:
“All pupils should be enabled to participate in and gain knowledge, skills and understanding associated with the artistic practice of drama. Pupils should be able to adopt, create and sustain a range of roles, responding appropriately to others in role. They should have opportunities to improvise, devise and script drama for one another and a range of audiences, as well as to rehearse, refine, share and respond thoughtfully to drama and theatre performances.”
Children at St Francis Primary love to take part in Drama lessons and activities. Drama is a crucial tool which enables all children to actively engage in effective learning across the curriculum. It has enriches and deepens the children’s learning in lots of different subjects.
Drama activities at St Francis Primary:
• Involve children being given roles so they have the opportunity to explore values and beliefs and the way that they impact on people’s lives.
• Promote teamwork. In order for drama to be successful children need to show respect for other’s needs, interests and feelings as well as their own.
• Provide a platform to explore difficult topics in a relevant and safe way.
• Create an opportunity for problem solving and helps children make reasoned judgments on moral dilemmas.
• Help children to become open to more ideas and gives children a willingness to modify their thoughts or values in the light of experience.
• Provide children with an opportunity to gain crucial life skills like problem solving, communication, collaboration, self-control acceptance and discipline.
Drama activities include performance poetry, hot seating, freeze framing, performing playscripts and acting in the role of characters. Drama is also undertaken as part of class assemblies and key stage performances. We also provide many opportunities for our children to watch live performances.