Poor language is linked to poor behaviour even in very young children. 2 in 3 language delayed 3 year olds have behaviour problems

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Danielle Le Rossignol

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In 2011 Danielle Le Rossignol, Senior Speech and Language Pathologist, from the Department of Education in Tasmania, Australia visited The Communication Trust as part of a Churchill Fellowship.

No Pens Day Wednesday Launceston Times TASMANIA150pxDanielle was keen to investigate a number of The Communication Trust’s initiatives as part of the 2011 National Year of Communication in the UK. A highlight for Danielle was learning more about “No Pens Day Wednesday” which was launched for the first time in 2011. Danielle recently introduced Australia’s inaugural “No Pens Day Wednesday” concept at Riverside Primary School in Tasmania. Riverside Primary School is the largest primary school in the northern region of Tasmania, with over 680 students enrolled.

The event was a huge success with many teachers and students commenting positively on the ideas and activities introduced. Both Danielle and senior staff from the school were inspired and amazed by the range of creative ideas generated by both teachers and students to promote speaking and listening in the classroom without the use of pens!

Examples included:

1. Students brainstorming novel ways to order their lunch from the canteen (e.g. putting star stickers on the lunch order form)

2. Using a computer animation program to develop cartoons

3. Students brainstorming novel ways for the attendance to be taken (e.g. sending a student to tell the office the names of absent students, taking the whole class to the office and asking the office staff to read out the class list to work out which students were absent!)

4. Students working in pairs to orally plan an itinerary for a trip to “Singapore Zoo” using coloured maps and timetables

5. Floating and sinking experiments based on well-known picture books (e.g. “Who Sank the Boat?”)

6. Students re-enacting scenes from a book and then having to match the ‘freeze frames’ to pictures from a story

7. Making collages of the seasons and then using “Wordle” (a computer program for brainstorming words) to generate related “word walls” to go under the collages

8. Making puppets and then developing and performing a puppet show using oral questioning and modelling

9. Collaborative teamwork in which students had to work out how to make a bridge using toothpicks and blu tack

10. Using mathematical knowledge of fractions to build a “Maths Man” using the right number of pattern blocks

11. A dramatic re-enactment of “Goldilocks” followed by a court room trial and debate where students had to decide who was guilty The event made the front page of a local paper, as well as being featured in the school’s newsletter for the week.

Since running “No Pens Day Wednesday”, Danielle has had contact from Speech Pathology Australia regarding the potential application of this initiative by other speech and language pathologists. There are plans to run “No Pens Day Wednesday” on a more regular basis at Riverside Primary School (e.g. once a term) and Danielle hopes to be able to introduce the initiative to a number of other schools within Tasmania in the near future.