Embedding oracy across the curriculum…

We all talk….. but how much do we really say.

As teachers talk is a fundamental part of all our lessons: tell me the answer, what is..?, talk to your partners. Surely that’s great, that’s what we were told to do. Get your children to turn to their partner and answer the question. So what are are the children getting out of this?

Since working at school 21 I am encouraged to question my practice and be truly reflective on how purposeful the things we just do really are. So talk and oracy are areas I am working on this year as part of my professional development and performance management this year. 

I blogged previously on using a stimulus in p4c, but I really wanted to experiment with incorporating all the great oracy techniques I was teaching the children discreetly in these P4C sessions across the curriculum…. so today we used the techniques in maths. 

The content

This lesson was all about symmetry. It was to be the first time we had covered it this year and the children had limited knowledge from the previous year. I decided from the offset that there was going to be no recording in books and all their learning would take place through practical exploration and discussion. By the end of the lesson all children were going to be able to find lines of symmetry in a variety of shapes (I hoped).
The structure and how it allowed for talk to take place

The lesson followed the maths mastery 6-part lesson:

  •  A do now related to previous learning on angles and lines- think, pair, share system where children were able to construct own ideas before being influenced by others.
  • New learning introducing symmetry- This was a series of images which featured symmetry and non-symmetry opening up discussion as to what symmetry truly was. As the facilitator of the lessons I explored all possibilities and remained neutral to all ideas. It was great to hear the children using their ability to challenge and build on ideas without having to intervene, merely chose who spoke next. Once we came to a shared agreement on what symmetry was we moved on.
  • The talk task allowed children to explore practically with shapes and mirrors. One partner was to fold the paper where they thought the line of symmetry was and partner B was to check with a mirror deciding whether their partner was correct. This opened up a new discussion that symmetry lines could be of more than one for each shape.
  • In the develop learning section we revisited misconceptions of finding lines of symmetry. It was interesting when a shape with no line of symmetry…. One child in particular was insistent that there was a line of symmetry. To the point where he came up to model saying I needed to just join the corners:


What made me the proudest in this moment that he felt he could have the voice to challenge me, as his teacher, and attempt to prove his point… An inquisitive mathematician in the making!

  • In the main part of the lesson we moved on to a concept cartoon for the children to discuss:


Not only this but the children ha to formulate their discussion using a chair and the roles that we used in previous oracy lessons. To start with this was fairly alien to the children as this was a tool they only used in P4C, but they soon got into it and were challenging, building on and summarising each other’s ideas… in MATHS!!!

So what next?

 Today proved to me that these techniques work perfectly alongside the curriculum. My next target is to begin to embed the tools into talk tasks across the week allowing children more authentic opportunities to develop their ability to challenge, build on and summarise the ideas of others against their own. My hope is that they then begin to show these skills unprompted in a variety of lessons across the curriculum….

Watch this space!

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This entry was posted in Craftsman, Maths, Oracy, Performance management, Reflection and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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