By Linda Gross
May 1, 2020
As an educational consultant for the Landmark Outreach Program, I have the privilege of working with special education teachers, general education teachers, teaching assistants, speech-language pathologists (SLPs), reading specialists, and administrators. I get to see first-hand the ways these professionals weave strategies into lessons across all grades and subjects to support all students. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about how to apply “lessons learned” from my professional experiences to the current situation facing educators across the country. In these uncertain times, most educators have moved from traditional in-person classrooms to remote learning environments. What remains the same, regardless of the setting, is the presence of language in instruction and learning. Language is everywhere!
Language is complex!
Language is how we communicate through listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Each of these language domains can be further broken down into five parameters: phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics/discourse. Research informs us that spoken language skills (listening and speaking) develop innately, while written language (reading and writing) must be taught. Likewise, listening and speaking play a critical role in developing reading and writing skills.
What are the spoken language demands in your class?
Spoken language is an integral part of the academic curriculum as evidenced by the Common Core speaking and listening standards. For example, a language arts class may require students to discuss character traits or a book’s theme. A social studies class may have students complete an oral presentation comparing and contrasting historical events. A science class may have students pair up (turn and talk) to explain the results of an experiment. And a math class may ask students to explain the process they used to solve a problem.
Students are required to use their listening and speaking skills to:
These demands occur in class discussions, small group collaborations, lecture note-taking, oral presentations, and oral assessments. For students with language-based learning disabilities (LBLD), such tasks can be quite challenging! It may be difficult for them to pay attention, auditorily process information, access background knowledge, engage working memory (recall and retrieval), and use executive function skills —all of which are necessary skills for academic success.
Students with LBLD require direct, explicit instruction.
Educators must continue to support their students’ development of listening and speaking skills, regardless of the learning environment. I encourage educators to take a step back and think about all of the great ways they accomplish this in a traditional classroom. Use or tweak those same approaches! Landmark’s Teaching Principles and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines offer practical strategies that can certainly be applied in remote classroom settings.
5 Remote Instruction Tips to Support Students’ Listening and Speaking Skills Across All Grades and Subjects
I love being able to exchange ideas with teachers and SLPs! I miss being in the schools, but have found new ways to collaborate with these professionals, just as you have found new ways to connect with your students. With that in mind, I’ve put together five tips to address listening and speaking skills wherever and however instruction is happening.
References and Additional Resources
Linda is a certified speech-language pathologist who has been practicing since 1988. Throughout her career, she has worked in clinical and public school settings evaluating and treating individuals with a variety of communication disorders. Linda joined Landmark High School as the expressive language program director in 1994, transitioning into a consultation role in this program in 2003. Linda has also been a Landmark Outreach Program faculty member since 1996, consulting to public schools, as well as teaching face-to-face and online graduate-level courses. Her expertise is in child and adolescent expressive language disorders with a particular focus on social communication skills.
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