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Creating a Language Rich Environment
 
Course Description
    

One of the most important tasks for children in the first five years of life is the development of language. Children enter early care settings with vast differences in vocabulary and oral language development, and early educators can meet this challenge by providing language-rich learning environments. This workshop will provide early childhood educators with an understanding of young children's oral language development and appropriate approaches for promoting language and emergent literacy in their classrooms. This workshop will focus on effective methods for developing children’s vocabulary knowledge through book reading and discussions, and advancing children’s language through extended conversations. Additionally, participants will learn to create opportunities for rich discourse and build children’s background knowledge. Workshops assignments will invite participants to apply relevant content and plan meaningful, language-rich curricular activities.

 
Course Syllabus
    

Creating a Language-Rich Environment

Workshop Overview

One of the most important tasks for children in the first five years of life is the development of language. Children enter early care settings with vast differences in vocabulary and oral language development, and early educators can meet this challenge by providing language-rich learning environments. This workshop will provide early childhood educators with an understanding of young children's oral language development and appropriate approaches for promoting language and emergent literacy in their classrooms. This workshop will focus on effective methods for developing children’s vocabulary knowledge through book reading and discussions, and advancing children’s language through extended conversations. Additionally, participants will learn to create opportunities for rich discourse and build children’s background knowledge. Workshops assignments will invite participants to apply relevant content and plan meaningful, language-rich curricular activities.

Goals

This workshop will enable participants to:

  • understand oral language development of young children, ages 3 through age 5,
  • develop an understanding of the connection between language and literacy development,
  • learn strategies for facilitating conversations that support language development such as eliciting personal narratives,
  • learn about ways to support vocabulary development through book reading,
  • learn how to facilitate interactive activities that support children’s phonological awareness, and
  • plan for integrated and meaningful curriculum that supports children’s language and literacy development.

Alignment to Standards

This workshop meets the standards for Content, Instructional Design, and Technology as defined in the National Standards of Quality for Online Courses, published by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).

This workshop provides teachers with an opportunity to meet the Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership standard as defined in the National Educational Technology Standards and Performance Indicators for Teachers, published by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

 Alignment with the Standards for English Language Arts from the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) and International Reading Association (IRA):

3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).

4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

9. Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.

11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Intended Audience

This workshop helps provides early childhood educators with an understanding of young children's oral language development and appropriate approaches for promoting language and emergent literacy in their classrooms. Participants are expected to have regular access to computers and proficiency with email and current Web browsers.

Workshop Outline

Session One: Young Children’s Oral Language Development

Oral language plays an important role in early literacy development, laying a solid foundation for emerging reading and writing skills. Research has shown that children’s language ability is a strong predictor of later success in learning to read and write. In this session you will learn about young children’s oral language development and how language development directly impacts children’s literacy development. You will assess the oral language development of a child using a tool called the Teacher Rating of Oral Language and Literacy (TROLL).

Session Two: The Project Approach to Curriculum

Curriculum plays a critical role in fostering language and literacy development in the classroom. When children are engaged in learning about an interesting topic of study, they have purposeful, motivating reasons to talk, read, and write. This session will focus on how teachers can integrate language and literacy opportunities into the pursuit of a topic of study. You will read about how one classroom planned and implemented a curriculum study of hair using the Project Approach. You will reflect on how using this approach to curriculum skillfully integrates meaningful conversations, vocabulary development, book reading, and writing. You will then begin to plan for a project in your own classroom as part of your final workshop project.

Session Three: Supporting Language Development through Meaningful Conversations 

One of the most effective ways to support children’s language development is to engage in high quality teacher-child conversations. In this session, you will learn about facilitating conversations with children that extend over multiple turns, using more complex language, and building new vocabulary and concepts. Through the readings and video clips, you will learn ways to support extended discourse and various conversational strategies that foster advanced uses of language in a variety of classroom settings.

Session Four: Oral Stories Promote Language Development

Children’s language and literacy development benefit greatly from engaging in different types of extended discourse. Oral stories or narratives, especially personal stories, as opposed to ones read in books, can provide children with rich opportunities to listen to and use varied language and vocabulary. Telling personal stories in the classroom also connects children to their peers and teachers in ways that support their social-emotional development. You will read about the cognitive benefits of oral narratives, particularly its impact on language and literacy development. Using the readings and online resources, you will then develop a plan for modeling and eliciting personal narratives in the classroom.

Session Five: Building Vocabulary through Everyday Activities 

Building children’s vocabulary skills is one of the most effective ways to support language and literacy development. This session will highlight key strategies teachers can use during daily activities and conversations to expand children’s vocabulary. Participants will then plan a lesson for building vocabulary during everyday activities as part of their final project.

Session Six: The Sounds of Language: Developing Children’s Phonological Awareness 

In this session you will learn about phonological awareness--what it is, how it plays an important role in emergent literacy development, and how teachers can support it in their classroom. The readings will discuss how developing sensitivity to the sounds in language will help children become readers and writers. By viewing a several video clips you will have the opportunity to see how one preschool teacher incorporates phonological awareness activities into her classroom routine. Using this video example and the readings, you will then develop a lesson plan for building phonological awareness in your classroom. You will also complete your final workshop project plan.