Wow, we are 18 years into the 21st Century. The demand for innovation, creative thinking and student agency is at an all-time high. I believe opportunities for rich discussions underpin the ability to develop higher order thinking skills that enable the effective use of such a skill set.
The way we use oral language in the classroom is more than shared news or a timetabled block to answer questions from the teacher. In its early stages, it involves planned discussions where students have the opportunity to speak their mind, have their views respected, built upon and challenged. It's important to step back and let those silent moments shine in all their awkward glory, breaking the stigma 'silence' meaning you are dumb. Those 'brain fart' moments need to be embraced and seen as opportunities to connect and flesh out ideas.
Facilitating such discussions can be difficult. We need to let go of the reigns and allow the students to direct the discussion. How can we plan for something so broad? We can generate a big idea to be discussed or better still, co-construct it with our students. Provide a variety of resources (multi-modal) that can be easily accessed, be prepared to challenge views through effective questions and openly accept that we won't know all the answers.
I must acknowledge that my understanding of oral language continues to be disrupted and reshaped alongside Jacinta Oldehaver and her research into Effective Dialogic Practices in the classroom. So watch this space!