Lesson Plan on Language in Schools

Adam Fletcher at the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
SoundOut students involved in an education planning meeting.

 

FACILITATOR NOTES 

Introduction: This is an inquiry-based workshop in which 8-40 participants will identify and explore the role of language between students and adults, and the role of language in schools and throughout education. This is also known as “Educationese 101”.

Goal: When this session is complete, participants should be able to…

  • Identify underlying issues between students and adults
  • Understand how language is perceived
  • Lay the foundation for respectful communication

Time: 60 minutes

Materials: Flip chart paper and markers

Space: Big enough for the group to work

Considerations: Language plays a big role in perception and belonging to a group. Talking about language is a good way to get at issues that underlie tension between students and adults. However, it is important that this exercise not get too personal. Remind individuals to focus on characteristics, not individuals. That means making general comments rather than, “Oh, its stupid when (a teacher, another student, the principal, the project director) says this.” Encourage people to laugh and use this exercise as a fun way to vent and to get some issues out on the table.

 


PROCEDURES

  1. [10 min] Spilt group up into students and adults. Depending on the size of group, you may want to create small groups among the students and the adults. Hand out flip chart paper and markers and ask each group to appoint a recorder. Tell the groups they will have ten minutes to brainstorm as long a list as possible of things they never want to hear the group say again.
  1. [10 min] When the group is finished, have them pick the top ten phrases they dislike and to briefly list the reason(s) for each one.
  1. [20 min] Each small group should report back to the large group, with an opportunity for the large group to respond with questions, comments, or other responses after each small group. For this segment, the facilitator should remain quiet, allowing the group to answer its own questions and pose its own questions.
  1. [15 min] After each small group has presented, the facilitator should pose the following questions. Ask the group to stay focused on discussing the assumptions and reasoning behind each phrase:
  • Were there any surprises?
  • Was anything missing?
  • For adults, did you see anything on the students’s list that you remember not wanting to hear when you were a student?During this section, note common themes presented by participants. When that question section is complete, ask the group, “What kinds of things do people want to hear from each other?”
  1. [5 min] Close by asking participants to say what they have learned about communicating effectively with the other age group.

 

 

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