We first came across the idea of a ‘Conversation Station’ when several of us attended Â Communication and LanguageÂ training delivered by Eileen Swan. In this post, Sarah Johnson (our Nursery teacher) shares how she has implemented a conversation station in her classroom.
In Nursery, we have developed our very own Conversation Station. We implemented the Conversation Station in order to ensure that high quality, meaningful, consistent conversations would occur within Nursery. The Conversation Station ensures that the children have the opportunity to talk, get feedback on their language, and have appropriate language modelled for them by an adult.
Our conversation consists of a tent, with two comfortable beanbags and key vocabulary from current and previous topics. The vocabulary cards are regularly used to stimulate discussion when children find it difficult to think of a topic to talk about.
The conversation station provides a â€˜privateâ€™ space within the classroom, in which a child and adult can have a conversation without any interruptions. The Nursery environment doesnâ€™t always provide the opportunity for children to have time talking one on one with adults about a topic of their choice, something that the Conversation Station now provides. It is also beneficial for those children that lack confidence when speaking in front of small groups as they are provided with this much needed one on one contact time.
When in the conversation station with an adult, the children are encouraged to demonstrate their speaking and listening skills. It also provides the platform for adults to model effective conversation skills. The adult can also take this opportunity to introduce new vocabulary and ask questions to extend responses. The language rich environment, achieved from the key vocabulary cards, also provides the children with the chance to demonstrate their knowledge of letters and sounds. Once the conversation has finished, the adult records a quick note of who they were talking with, the topic and any other relevant information e.g. the child used a range of vocabulary relating to the farm. This record is then used to inform planning and assessment.
In Nursery we have noticed a significant improvement in the childrenâ€™s conversation skills since implementing the Conversation Station. We have also noticed that the children are very keen and eager to visit the Conversation Station, and often ask adults to spend time in there with them. It is a fantastic addition to our classroom that encourages progress in the areas of: communication and language; literacy; and personal, social and emotional development.Â
By Sarah Johnson, Nursery Teacher
The following ‘Conversation Record’ Â has been adapted from a resource created by Eileen Swan.
Eileen shared the following background reading.