Expressive Language and Purposeful Talk

With Halloween fast approaching, my mind is focused on ways to make the fun things we do at school matter.  How can we tweak the fun into something meaningful?

Here’s one thing that came to mind.  A classic elementary school activity, ”Guess The Monster Parts” (1:05-1:50):

Guessing the monster parts can be as gross as the teacher makes it (in my experience, grosser = better).  The activity is fun, but with a few simple tweaks this can be made very meaningful.  A teacher could use the experience of playing with food to build expressive language.

The screaming and the “EEEEEWWWs” could be channeled into an opportunity for students to build expressive vocabulary.  First, students will need to share their responses with a partner or small group. They’ll want to talk about what they felt; in fact, they will likely scream it out.  Get them to record a list of their feelings/thoughts as they talk with a partner or a small group of friends.  An audio recording or a short list, written on piece of paper could really capture their vocabulary as an initial assessment of expressive language.

Once they have finished sharing with a partner/small group, their best ideas could be added to a master class list.  This is a great opportunity for some direct instruction.  Questions like “what’s an even better word for?” or “how else might we say that?” would be very effective because the experience will be fresh in students’ minds.  

Students could then talk together a second time using their master list and  “speaking skills and strategies appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes”.  Perhaps they could describe the WHOLE monster to one another.  What might it look like when Dr. Frankenstein puts all of the bits and pieces together? 

Finally, to solidify the growth of expressive vocabulary students could “focus the talk with a product”.

Maybe something like this could be modified to really showcase the purposeful use of words?

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