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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Common Core Speaking and Listening Standard 3

For this standard, third grade teachers will need to invite some real live people to speak to their classes. For fourth and fifth grades, however, online speakers will work just fine. College and Career Readiness Anchor Standard for Speaking and Listening 3 (CCRA.SL.3) asks students to "evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric."

According to SL.3.3, third graders need to "ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail."

As I stated before, for this standard, you need a real live person. The teacher will do in a pinch, but bringing in some outside speakers is better. Before the "outsiders" come in, though, your kids need to know the difference between a question and a comment (especially stories about their own lives!) You all know what I mean. It happens all the time. As soon as the speaker from the zoo says, "Any questions?" twenty hands shoot in the air, all ready to say, "One time, my great uncle saw a hippo eat a lily pad at the San Diego Zoo. First it looked at the lily pad. Then it studied it some more. My uncle was at the zoo with his cousins from Transylvania. He was wearing his favorite Tigers T-shirt. I had a bowl of cereal this morning for breakfast. The lily pad was green and slimy with a yellow flower...."

Training kids to ask appropriate questions (not too long, not too short, not off topic, not a personal comment) takes some time. And, of course, due to the maturity level and general impulsivity associated with this age group, it sometimes doesn't "stick." I applaud the CCSS folks for writing such an eloquent standard to say, "No personal comments! No getting off track!"

Sandbox Learning's post, "Activities for Teaching Children to Ask and Answer Questions," outlines four great activities. I especially like Question Toss and One-on-One Show and Tell.

SL.4.3 wants fourth graders to "identify the reasons and evidence a speaker provides to support particular points." Speeches on YouTube are just fine, but choosing something with clear structure is critical. Let's look at a few examples of how this might work:

The fourth grade standard doesn't require students to identify the main points; instead, they are only asked to find the reasons and evidence used as support. As a fourth grade teacher, however, I plan on providing students with the main points at the beginning of the year, asking them to help me identify them in the  middle of the year, and asking them to find the main points themselves by the end of the year.

Tying this experience to students' own writing and speaking will help them understand how to find the main points and details. After all, when we ask students to write longer informative or persuasive pieces, don't we tell them to state their main points in the introduction, elaborate on each with details in the middle, and restate the main points again in the conclusion? They should be listening for main points that occur at the beginning, again in the middle, and once more at the end.

"Main Ideas and Supporting Details in Writing" from Townsend Press gives students practice in locating the main idea and supporting details. I know it's a reading/writing piece, but it also applies to speaking/listening. Using main ideas and supporting details in writing (and speaking), locating them in reading, and listening for them in speaking all go together. If you can get your kids to understand this, they will become stronger writers, more intuitive readers, and good listeners.

This leads right into the fifth grade standard, SL.5.3, which expects students to "summarize the points a speaker makes and explain how each claim is supported by reasons and evidence." In my opinion, persuasive speeches provide good practice for this standard. For example, students might view "Persuasive Speech - Junk Food" (6:01) and/or "Persuasive Speech - Water Conversation_J Salvatore" (6:07). After watching, students would identify the speaker's points and explain how each is supported by reasons and evidence. What I love about using YouTube is that the video can be shown multiple times or stopped for discussion, if needed.

How about some fun homework that requires higher order thinking skills? Students could select favorite television commercials then analyze main claim(s) and strategies for supporting those claims. As a class or in small groups, students could then share findings and evaluate which strategies are most effective in persuading the audience. Here are the "Funniest Super Bowl Commercials of 2013!" to get you thinking about the possibilities. (Warning: These commercials are for you, not your class - - - some adult content!)

As we explore the Common Core State Standards for Speaking and Listening, do you wonder when and where all of this will fit in your class schedule? I do! Although much of it is naturally tied to what we do each day, extra experiences and practice will be required to really master these standards. I'm going to have to make a conscience effort to integrate this into my weekly lesson plans!

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