Bloglovin

Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Common Core Speaking and Listening Standard 6

"You are sick, Mrs. Kovich!" my student called across the classroom, grinning ear to ear. The room grew silent, and I tried to figure out exactly what he meant. Obviously, it was meant as a compliment, but the poor kid had not matched his language to the situation. The other kids admonished, "You shouldn't have said that to the teacher." Why are some forms of slang not appropriate to use with elders? Why are curse words accepted in some situations and not others? Why are complete sentences and proper conventions necessary in some settings?

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standard for Speaking and Listening 6 (CCRA.SL.6) was written to help kids figure out which types of language are appropriate in certain situations. It reads, "Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate." Let's take a look at specific related standards for intermediate grades.

Grade 3
For this standard (SL.3.6), third graders are expected to "speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification." Additionally, the standard directs teachers to Language standards 1 and 3, which go into deeper detail on use of conventions.

At this level, students must be able to recognize and use complete sentences. They also need to discriminate between situations where complete sentences are necessary and situations that do not require complete sentences. One simple way to reinforce this would be to have students sort situations (one pile for when complete sentences are necessary and another for when they are unnecessary) then discuss.


Grade 4
Fourth graders (SL.4.6) are asked to "differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g. small-group discussion)" and to "use formal English when appropriate to task and situation." Related Language standards outline expectations for conventions and language, specifically choosing "words and phrases to convey ideas precisely"and "punctuation for effect."

This standard seems to focus on situations that occur within the classroom. Perhaps students could brainstorm all of the different speaking situations they encounter at school place them on a continuum between "formal" and "casual." I'd love to be a fly on the wall during their decision-making process! To extend this activity, small groups of students could write instructions for speaking in one of these situations on a 3 x 5 card and share.

"Specific and Memorable Word Choice" by Steve Peha addresses strong verbs, specific adjectives and adverbs, memorable words, accurate and effective words, and language that's appropriate to purpose and audience. While this piece was written about writing, it can easily be applied to speaking. I also found this worksheet for practice using specific word choice.

While listeners can't see punctuation, they can hear it. Longer sentences narrate while shorter sentences punctuate. Using one short sentence after several longer sentences makes an audience sit up and listen. What about the drama that can be created with a series of hard-hitting short sentences? "Sentence Length: the Power of Placing Periods" discusses the effect of sentence length. Fourth grade is the perfect time to experiment with sentence lengths and pauses (where semicolons, commas, and dashes fall in writing).

Grade 5
As students reach fifth grade (SL.5.6), they are required to "adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, using formal English when appropriate to task and situation." L.5.1 and L.5.3 provide more detail about expected use of conventions and direct students to "expand, combine, and reduce sentences for meaning, reader/listener interest, and style," as well as comparing and contrasting ways people speak, such as dialects.

It's time to have some fun with YouTube again! Check out this video, "Fun Tour of American Accents," with Amy Walker, which compares and contrasts the different ways Americans talk (6:40). The "Map of English Dialects in the US" takes you quickly across the country and displays dialects (no sound - 1:10). For an English accents around the world, check out "13 English Accents & Dialects Video..." (2:15).

In closing, I'd like to tell you about a language activity I learned years ago. It's simple, effective, and fun! Just write some sentences that have plenty of articles, pronouns, and adjectives, like this:

My little brother would never pick his nose! (Using yucky stuff like this is especially effective...) Have students read the sentence, stressing a different word each time:
  • My little brother would never pick his nose!
  • My little brother would never pick his nose!
  • My little brother would never pick his nose!
  • My little brother would never pick his nose!
  • My little brother would never pick his nose!
  • My little brother would never pick his nose!
  • My little brother would never pick his nose!
Discuss how the meaning changes as the stressed word changes. My students love this activity! I hope yours will too!