A “Show and tell” sharing session is a tradition familiar to many early childhood classrooms across the world. Children take turns to tell their classmates about an item they have brought in to show, or to relate a recent event in their lives. While the practice introduces children to public speaking, helps to develop confidence and oral communication skills, and encourages them to listen attentively, I consider the learning achieved compared to the time spent to be of dubious value.
Children tend to fidget, rather than listen and, with their minds elsewhere, are generally more interested in talking about themselves than in learning about others. This is a trait not exclusive to children though, and can be noticed in people of all ages.
Although encouraged to ask questions at the conclusion of each talk, children’s questions are often standard, repetitive, and lacking in thought. They may be unrelated to anything the speaker said, or may request information already supplied. The asking is seen more as an opportunity of talking and of being seen to ask (that is; doing the right thing), than to know more or to participate in genuine discourse.
Believing in the session’s greater potential, I innovated on the basic routine to make it a focussed literacy teaching episode. By incorporating features of approaches such as language experience, modelled writing, and shared book, the session became an avenue for teaching and learning in both reading and writing.
From the first days of school, we wrote our Class News; creating meaningful texts which valued and connected with children’s lives. The jointly constructed texts became our first reading material; richer in interest, content, language, and vocabulary than any first reader. (Though these have their place and were also used.)
Writing and reading Class News: The process
Continue reading: Show and tell: a writing and reading experience – Readilearn