What is Oral Communication?

Oral Communication is one for the 4 strands of the Ontario Literacy Curriculum.  Let's look at what it is, and how we can teach it to our students.

What Is Oral Communication?

Oral communication fits in nicely with comprehensive literacy. Read Alouds and Shared Reading help to meet some of the Oral Communication expectations for Listening.  In these expectations, they mention "Oral Texts." Oral texts are texts that are read to students, not texts that students are reading independently. Therefore, when we assess Read Alouds and Shared Reading, we assess Oral Communication NOT Reading.

You can also meet a variety of speaking expectations DAILY.  Accountable talk is an essential high yield strategy that must be used in ANY literacy program. This is purposeful talk that is based on a question that really gets students thinking. It can be related to your read aloud, shared reading, guided reading, modelled writing or even another area of the curriculum.  Accountable talk strategies include:

Inside / Outside Circle - some students stand in the inside circle. They face the students in the outside circle. The pair of students discuss a question. After 1 minute, the outside circle moves one person. This is repeated.

4 corners - put up a question that involves discussion around totally agree (corner 1), somewhat agree (corner 2), totally disagree (corner 3), somewhat disagree (corner 4). Students will have a mini debate on the question based on the positions they have taken.

Value Line - pose a question.  If students agree, they stand on one side of the line. If they agree, they stand on the other side of the line. This is great to promote debating.

Placemat - post a comprehension question. Students are broken up into groups of 4. Each student individually answers the question, on a post it note. Then, the students come together and try to answer the question as a group.

You can also conduct presentations and speeches within your classroom. Embed these into other areas of the curriculum. However, it is important to remember - this is NOT the only way to get a mark for Oral Communication. Many students have difficulty with standing up and talking in front of the class. Be sure to incorporate a variety of ways to assess oral communication.

Click HERE for assessment tools and rubrics for Oral Communication.

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