The Language of Content

Articles from the Speak Agent team that provide classroom resources, implementation strategies, research-based perspectives, and updates regarding our Content+LanguageSM platform.

Using Speak Agent In Your Classroom


May 17, 2022 | Lauren Umbehauer |


Whether you're thinking about using Speak Agent, just getting started, or you’re a Speak Agent pro, you may be wondering how you can use Speak Agent to engage students in your classroom. Check out these proven strategies to incorporate Academic Language acquisition into your classroom, curated by former educator and partnership success specialist Lauren Umbehauer from our implementation and content team! 

Microphone and lightbulb representing bright ideas and strategies

I recently transitioned into a Partner Success role with Speak Agent. Before that, I taught 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade science in New Jersey. I know firsthand how difficult it can be to grab students' attention in the classroom. I’d continuously strive to ensure my lessons engaged students in science content and practices. Students carried out investigations, built engineering projects, asked meaningful questions, communicated information, and so much more. These hands-on and higher-level activities were fun for my students and provided them with real-world science experiences.  However, I came up against one major obstacle: Many of my students had never heard of or used the science terms we were using in the classroom. It was all new for them, and they needed more support. How could they perform an investigation on the electromagnetic spectrum if they had never been exposed to that academic language before? It meant I had to find and create resources to provide that extra support. As a former educator, I know that equipping students with the necessary tools for academic language acquisition can be challenging for teachers to tackle on their own. Speak Agent provides ready-made activities where students can practice acquiring and using academic language vocabulary!

Female scientist student

How can teachers use Speak Agent with their students?

 

1. Bell Ringer Activities

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Bell Ringer activities were my favorite way to settle students into the classroom. It provides student learning opportunities and classroom management; what a win!

 

Research shows more frequent usage of Speak Agent in small increments of time is the most effective way to develop students' academic language. A quick, engaging activity at the beginning of class can make a big difference!

 


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2. Small-Group

As an educator, I had a wide range of diverse students in my classroom. It was essential to find support for my learners who needed extra practice. Speak Agent has you covered! There are many differentiation tools to support individual student needs.

 

 

 

science equipment

3. Whole-Group

Speak Agent provides visual representations and aids for the academic language terms in your lessons, making it a valuable tool for whole group instruction. One strategy I find particularly helpful is to use our Word Gallery activity to introduce new concepts or review past topics. Students also find it to be a valuable reference tool during class assignments. Speak Agent is versatile, so use it however you find it useful for your unique students! 

 

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4. Independent Practice 

In my classroom, I found that repetition is critical to achieving proficiency. Speak Agent provides students opportunities to read, write, and speak using the scientific vocabulary terms with the units you’re teaching while ensuring the words provided are in context with real-world and relatable scenarios. Students gain the confidence to use these new terms in classroom activities, assessments, and discussions and can relate them to their own lives and the world around them. 

 

I have always loved science and wanted to ensure my classroom encouraged that same passion in my students by sincerely engaging them in the scientific process. Speak Agent makes this accessible for students by providing them with the foundational language they need to communicate with their classmates and teacher using complex academic vocabulary. Through my transition into EdTech, I’m honored to be able to use Speak Agent to help teachers support their students in finding a love for science. If you’d like to learn more about Speak Agent’s classroom use or my transition from the classroom, let’s chat! I would love to discuss the importance of content language acquisition in our science classrooms.      

 

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From the classroom

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"My favorite thing about Speak Agent is the level of engagement and excitement it generates in my students. Many of them literally ask me if they can do their lessons, as soon as we transition to Science!" - Mr. Conticelli, Lee County Schools, FL.

Lauren Umbehauer

Written by Lauren Umbehauer

Lauren is a science educator with six years of experience bringing curiosity and excitement into the classroom for secondary students. She is a proven leader in implementing new technologies in the classroom and providing rigorous professional development on research-based teaching strategies.