Oracy Using Oracy in the classroom - Mr Beattie - @LandTHarris

This term Ms McTavish from our Music and Drama department has been attending a voice21 course in oracy. Voice 21 are keen to teach children and young people to learn to talk and learn through talk. To dig a little bit deeper I caught up with Ms McTavish so she could pass on some of what she has learnt so far through the course and the importance of oracy in the classroom.

Over to Ms McTavish...
Talk is fundamental to productive engagement in classroom life and has the potential to be transformative to teaching and learning.

What is Oracy?

Voice 21’s definition of oracy is supporting young people in finding their voice, metaphorically and literally. Oracy is to speech what literacy is to writing and numeracy is to maths and Voice 21’s mission is to empower schools and teachers to provide every child with an education in oracy.

Is it relevant to the curriculum in Scotland?

The purposes of the CfE are to enable all young people to become effective communicators, successful learners, responsible citizens, and effective contributors. Embedding oracy into lessons enables means of effectively targeting each of these purposes. Oracy is vitally significant to education; though often overlooked and devalued. It becomes clear that Oracy is not only a pedagogy but an explicit part of the curriculum. Talk enables teachers to formatively and summatively assess understanding, re-engage the disengaged and close equity/attainment gaps. As classroom talk requires learners to think for themselves; it both challenges and supports young people to value their voice and embrace ownership of learning.

Has the CLPL been beneficial?

Attending the Voice 21 CPD has enabled me to plan carefully for talking and listening opportunities in my teaching practice. Importantly, I have developed high expectations for educational talk and have been introduced to the works of Robin Alexander, a practitioner who has had a significant influence on my thinking. Across my first two training sessions I have learned: strategies for effective talk; how to manage classroom discussion by applying sentence stems and discussion guidelines, assessment of the context of talk (exploratory/presentational), about the oracy framework (physical, linguistic, cognitive, social & emotional), new ideas for classroom groupings, and protocols for talk.

Are there any techniques worth a special mention?

A technique I have learned and enjoy using is the Harkness discussion method, which is a flipped learning approach that ensures all voices are equal. This has helped me become more inclusive towards the shy pupils in my class. The technique allows me to credibly valuing their contributions and inviting them to share their ideas through structured talk in a way they feel safe.

Has it been worthwhile?

Yeah, I am enjoying developing a dialogic classroom and look forward to evaluating the work I am currently involved in with my young people, to measure the impact on learning and attainment.

Feel free to visit the drama base and have a look at some of the talk21 and oracy resources on Ms McTavish's wall. If you have any more questions or queries I am sure she would be glad to have a chat. Similarly, feel free to send me an email to ddtbeattie520@glow.sch.uk for more info.
One of the resources that I found fascinating in the Drama studio was a poster which highlighted the different groupings available to support different types of talk. I've shown it below and I am keen to try some of these in my classroom.

As always, thanks for reading, Mr Beattie.


Created with images by RyanMcGuire - "speak talk microphone tin can can tin" • tookapic - "microphone music vintage retro mic sound audio"

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