Let’s teach 3rd through 5th graders how to:
- think clearer
- be specific when speaking
- be precise while writing
- overcome stereotyping
- and defeat bulling
You can do that with BeakSpeak! A new children’s storybook that uses the dialogue of young chickens with language errors, bias and stereotypes, to demonstrate common speaking errors.
The characters are a combination of brightly illustrated pullets (young female chickens) and cockerels (young male roosters) with very specific and humorous personalities. Their nick names, reflect their common errors. In fact, the power of the book is emphasized in the back pages where the exploratory questions and suggested answers challenge young people to think critically. It also contains a list of new vocabulary words and their definitions!
If a child comes to class with an open mind, that is, a mind not influenced by biased statements and learned language errors, that would be great, but where are you going to find such a child? Let BeakSpeak be the key to a quick and fun method to get those little minds thinking clearly, speaking and writing specifically, and defying bulling.
- Use it in the classroom
- at the home-work table
- in the game room
- in the car on a road trip
- or even create a game with examples the children create themselves.
Let BeakSpeak be your go-to tool to help children improve communication for their future studies, relationships and careers.
While teaching in Alvin, as well as while working on my Masters, the school and college sent me to a number of workshops and conferences that helped me hone my language skills for teaching. I sponsored UIL Ready Writing, for one, judged UIL Decathlon events, presided over the Bay Area Chapter of the Teachers of English, and even helped train teachers to prepare students for State composition tests.
All of this experience kept telling me the same thing: to communicate clearly you need to get rid of unnecessary words in your sentences (become concise) and simply put that one nugget of your idea on paper.
It’s a complex concept, but with practice can become a simple, daily exercise young people welcome as a challenge and even master well before their sophomore years. Think of the games you can build around it. It does help that students learn their parts of speech first, though. It would have helped my students move this lesson along exponentially. Still, I contend, without all this technical jargon to scare students away, books like my little BeakSpeak can teach the same skills just as successfully, if not more so. The younger they are, the easier and quicker students learn. Don’t sell them short. This book is my legacy to you and my nod to all the students who both blessed my life and hated breaking nominalizations.
Download the Printable Worksheet Questions & Suggested Answers direct from the Publishers website here…
That is why I wrote the book. This is where the idea came from:
I settled on writing about what I knew best and for which I most had a passion. It would be about teaching language skills, the kind of skills I found sorely lacking in my high school classes, even among some of my senior Advanced Placement classes. Though it would be a children’s book, I believed the language of the book could be scaled down to guide lower-grade level teachers, or parents, or perhaps even some of the more precocious students themselves, into thinking more clearly, and speaking and writing more precisely and concisely. A mammoth objective on the surface, but I believed in my theory and started pecking away (excuse my pun J) at it’s complexity. The results you can find in the text of BeakSpeak itself, but especially in the questions and answers at the back of the book.
Lastly, I needed a moral to my little fable. That was easy enough when you are dealing with both chickens and young people. By nature, both come into this world hard-wired to live in a pecking-order. That’s a sad thing to have to say about our social system, but there is no hiding from its truth. Fortunately, children can be taught how to handle this kind of thing, though there is nothing easy about doing that. Chickens, on the other hand, can’t. They are either pecked into submission, or even death, or a human has to physically remove the bully. I would send mine to other farmers who would take them because they had lots of room and let their flock live outside all the time (they lost chickens to coyotes, dogs, hawks, etc., doing that, though), or put them they put them in the stew pot. I just learned never to buy Barred Rock and other bully breeds again. So, there you have it; it was easy to use defeating bullies as the moral to my little BeakSpeak. I hope it helps. We sorely need it.
The name BeakSpeak alludes to 1984, a novel by George Orwell, where countries are no longer free to speak or think freely in what they call the “Golden Country” of the past. They must learn a new language called “New-speak”, which does not allow people to say what they want or to challenge authority. One reason why this little book is important is because it helps its readers to avoid common errors in language that can hinder clear communication and thinking processes.
Another reason why this book is important is because it is a fable, which is a story with animals as characters that deliver a moral, or lesson. Before reading BeakSpeak, be sure to have read at least one of the older fables this book alludes to: either Henny Penny, The Sky is Falling, or Chicken Little.