Daily Oral Language Activities in the Classroom

Daily Oral Language is a great way for you and your students to begin the day.

By Greg Harrison

Daily Oral Language Activities

Early in my career, I observed a teacher who began her day with Daily Oral Language. I was very impressed with how she utilized it, and decided to incorporate it into my own classroom. Little did I know that I would end up using it in all of my classes (first, third, fourth, and fifth), and would begin each school day using this technique. There are many things I like about Daily Oral Language, but before I get into those, I will explain how I made it work.

The Basics of Daily Oral Language Review

The premise behind Daily Oral Language (D.O.L. from here on in) is that it gives students a chance to practice their spelling, sentence writing skills, and their knowledge of the use of conventions - including punctuation, capitilization, and rules of grammar. Additionally, D.O.L. can be used to teach and review the parts of speech (nouns, adjectives, pronouns, etc . . .), and types of sentences that we use (declarative, imperative, exclamatory, and interrogative).

Before I opened my door at the beginning of the day, I would write some sentences on the board that were filled with mistakes. With the lower grades, I would usually include two to three short sentences. With the upper grades, I usually wrote four or five longer sentences. The types of mistakes students were expected to find involved spelling, punctuation, capitilization, grammar, and sentence structure errors. Students knew that as soon as they came into the room, turned in their homework, and put their jackets and lunches away, they had to go straight to their seats and get to work on D.O.L. Each student had a D.O.L. notebook in their desks. They would simply turn to the next empty page, then begin. Let's say I had a third grade class. Students would see something like this on the board:

today is novembr 4th We are going to have a Great day! 

at 11:00, we will practice our musical play After returneng

 from lunch, Mrs white is coming in to due art with you


4 Sentences

Circle Proper Nouns - 2

Box Pronouns - 4

Underline Action Verbs - 6


As you can see, there are quite a few mistakes! The student's job is to recognize the mistakes BEFORE they write in their notebooks. They must fix the mistakes as they go along. The goal is to have a perfectly-written sequence of sentences in their notebooks when they are done. Then, they have to identify the parts of speech. In this case, they had to circle two proper nouns (November, Mrs. White) box four pronouns (We, we, our, you), and underline six action verbs (going, have, practice, returning, coming, do). I always let them know how many sentences there are in the sequence, and how many examples of each part of speech they must identify.

The Benefits of Using Daily Oral Language Activities

What do I love about D.O.L.? As a matter of fact, I love many things! First of all, I found this to be a great way to begin each school day. There's nothing like having your students quietly working while you're busy taking roll, collecting homework, organizing your upcoming lesson materials, attending to a student who's upset, or talking with a parent who needs a moment of your time. Secondly, it's an excellent way for students to hone their "nuts and bolts" skills regarding writing, and to use and understand the many different parts of speech. Third, you can tailor the difficulty level of D.O.L. to the grade level that you are teaching. Let's say you have an upper-grade class, and you are teaching the use of quotation marks, D.O.L. is a great way to have students recognize when quotation marks are needed in a sentence, and practice how to use them.

After about ten minutes, when everyone was finished, I would go up to the board and begin running my hand underneath the words. When my hand was underneath a mistake of any kind, the students would raise their hands. I would call on someone to tell me what was wrong, and ask them to tell me how to fix it. I would do so. After the sentences were fixed, I would ask volunteers to identify the parts of speech. I would circle, box, and underline the words.

No matter what grade level you teach, I hope you will consider giving D.O.L. a try. Below, you will find more lesson plans on D.O.L. and how to utilize it in your classroom.

Daily Oral Language Lesson Plans:

Daily Oral Language

This clever lesson is designed for third graders, and utilizes a different version of D.O.L. to teach idioms. Students identify idioms in sentences written on the whiteboard, then utilize a worksheet embedded in the lesson to make up their own idioms. This is a very nice lesson!

Oral Language Lesson Plan

Of course, D.O.L. can be orally done! This lesson is designed for first graders, and teaches them how to participate in a conversation by repeating a sentence spoken by one of their classmates, and then adding one of their own. Students sit in a circle and take turns telling their classmates things they like to do. The teacher records the sentences, and makes a simple class book that everyone can read and enjoy.

Daily Writing

Of course, there are many worksheets available that utilize the D.O.L. technique This one is designed for third and fourth graders, and has students utilize editing marks when correcting the mistakes they find.

Decoding the First Alphabets: Not As Simple as A, B, C

D.O.L. can be utilized in the secondary grades as well. This amazing lesson is designed for middle school and high school students. They work in groups to  explore early writing systems and their significance in understanding the development of past civilizations. Each group presents their research to the class, and teaches their classmates how to write their names, and various sentences, in the writing system they researched.