Oral Language

Free The Children: My Students Are The Change

Since attending my first We Day in Vancouver this year I have been amazed by all the people at Free The Children and their sister organization MeToWe.  Everything about the organization from the top down to the bottom is solely focus on creating opportunities for students around the world to be become aware of local and global issues, and to take action.  They do this with an adrenaline charged message that is impactful and long-lasting to our youth.

Free The Children make it easy for educators to create awareness and encourage students to stand up and speak out.  The educator resources can be used in many subject areas including social studies, health and career education, mathematics, and language arts.  The lesson plans are ready-made, easy to follow, well prepared, and are easily adapted or modified.  If that isn’t enough, when you contact Free The Children they will connect you with a highly motivated program coordinator who is well-educated, knowledgeable, great with students, and ready to assist the delivery of Free The Children’s message to your classroom/school whenever you need them.  Program coordinators have offered resources, small group sessions, presentations in assemblies, and support to students in delivery of the program.

A Calendar of Action

Throughout the school year Free The Children have carefully created opportunities for youth to become more aware of local and global issues around the world.  Most of their campaigns centre around creating awareness around Children’s Rights. Here’s a brief list of awareness campaigns:

Here’s how We Day Vancouver and  Free The Children inspired two grade 5/6 classrooms at Central Elementary Community School in Chilliwack, British Columbia to BE THE CHANGE!

Halloween For Hunger at Central Elementary Community School:

  • Instead of, or as well as, collecting candy on Halloween, students collected non-perishable foods items to donate to the local food bank
  • We set a goal of collecting 200 items of non-perishable food
  • Students used their social networks to get the message out
  • They told their friends and family members
  • They distributed flyers informing the community of their actions
  • They dressed in costume and collected with care
  • We collected over 630 items of non-perishable food
  • We smashed our goal!

Vow Of Silence At Central Elementary Community School:

  • Students went silent for the day in support of all children around the world whose Rights are violated
  • They arrived at school with tape over their mouths, with homemade badges, and colourfully designed t-shirts
  • The rest of the school were shocked by their actions and wanted to know more
  • Both grade 5/6 teachers structured their day to honour all participating students
  • The day was a complete success with many students remaining silent for the whole day.
  • The message was clear and well understood.  Children’s Rights should always be followed and never taken for granted

The Living Library Project: Everyone Has A Story

The Living Library Project is a project designed to improve oral language skills for all grade 5/6 students at Central Elementary Community School in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada.  In the next 9 months, we plan to invite living books, local and global community members, into the classroom to tell their stories orally to our students.  Our hope is that through these stories each of our students will realize that they too are a Living Book with a story to tell.

Oral story telling has been practiced for centuries in many cultures.  For many of those cultures, such as the indigenous people’s, it is how traditions and beliefs are passed on to the next generation.  Sadly, this cultural gift of language is slowly beginning to diminish.  Our Living Library is an attempt at breathing life back into the gift of oral language by recognizing, maybe for the first time, that EVERYONE has a story to tell.


  1. Living Books will introduce students to a variety of worldviews and life experiences
  2. Living Books will help students realize them have stories of their own to tell
  3. Students will use speaking and listening to improve and extend thinking
  4. Students will increase vocabulary usage and oral language skills


We are inviting Living Books, local and global community members, into the classroom to tell their stories orally to our students.  Our hope is that through these stories each of our students will realize that they are a living book with a story to tell.  If you have a story to tell contact us at livinglibrary33@gmail.com.

This project is meant to be shared with others, just as oral stories have been shared among cultures in our past.  Check out the website often to hear our most recent Living Books.

Tech Integration Post # 5 of 10: Health and Career Education 2.0

Grade 5 Health and Career Education Learning Outcome: Safety and Injury Prevention

C7 – describe safety guidelines to protect themselves and others from abuse and exploitation (e.g., knowing their right not to be abused, being assertive, avoiding potentially unsafe situations, practicing safe Internet use, recognizing tricks and lures used by predators)

Use a Flip camera, a video camera, a digital camera, or a mobile phone to video small groups of students acting out how to be safe online.  Try these topics or generate your own:

  1. Never hide Internet usage from your parents.  Always let them know when your online
  2. Never reveal personal information such as telephone number, address, last name etc…
  3. Never arrange to meet someone you’ve met online and don’t know, without your parents permission
  4. Cyberbullying
  5. Digital citizenship
  6. Protecting reputations online
  7. Digital privacy
  8. Safe talking in Cyberspace
  9. Handling E-mail and IM
  10. Safe Social Networking

Your learners may choose a topic and research, in depth, based on the information you’ve share with them or from information they have found independently.  They form a small group of three or four and complete the following tasks:

  • Sketch out a storyboard of the Internet/Online safety skit
  • Create a script of dialogue for the skit
  • Collect any props needed for the skit and practice until comfortable
  • Record the skit and edit using JayCut

Note: This is a cross-curricular activity and can be used for oral language practice as well as a writing exercise.
My Diigo links on Internet/Online Safety

Once your videos are complete your learners can use JayCut to upload and edit them.  JayCut is a free online video editing tool.  There is no longer a need to download expensive video editing software.  You can use JayCut from any computer with an Internet connection and the basic package is free.

When the videos have been edited by your learners they may be showcased at assemblies or shown to learners in younger grades and used as a teaching tool.  Older grades tend to put more effort into their work when the audience is larger and they know it’s being used for a higher purpose.

Feel free to let me know how it goes…

Tech Integration Post # 3 of 10: Using VoiceThread To Enhance Oral Language While Meeting Science Learning Outcomes

VoiceThread is a web2.0 tool that allows users to create and upload video, text, images, and audio (known as content) to a secure server from where anyone with access can interact with the content.  Think of it as an audio blog.

Grade 6 Science learning outcome: Earth and Space science – explain obstacles unique to exploration of a specific extreme environment.

Instructions On How To Create An Account:

How to create a VoiceThread:

How to create multiple identities:

In the PLO example at the top of the post, your students will find examples of extreme environments using images, video, or text.  They will use the audio feature to comment on the content by explaining why the chosen environment is extreme. Students will discuss why the environment is extreme, and what makes it difficult to life there.  Each student uploads a different example of an extreme environment and comments on their own thread as well as other class member’s threads.  This is great way to practice and assess oral language as well as introduce and practice science specific vocabulary.

Suggested Achievement Indicators (audio comments/responses) for this PLO are:

  • Identify the salient characteristics of an extreme environment (e.g., space, polar ice, oceans, volcanoes, and the atmosphere — a place that humans do not naturally inhabit but choose to explore)
  • Give several examples of resources and knowledge that can be obtained from distant explorations
  • Give several examples of how technology can be used by humans to travel to and explore an unknown environment