The power of real human stories to develop oracy skills and improve engagement in the classroom

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As educators, we all know the importance of giving every student a chance to be heard. However, with challenges such as large class sizes, varying personalities, fear or lack of engagement, ensuring that all voices are heard in the classroom can be difficult. Fortunately, immersive real human stories provide teachers with a powerful tool to stimulate discussion, build oracy and encourage debate in the classroom.
Children enjoying a Lyfta lesson
Children enjoying a Lyfta lesson

Why is oracy important?

Developing oracy skills is essential for learning. By teaching effective verbal communication techniques and improving students' speaking and listening abilities, we enhance their self-awareness and help them to understand themselves, others and the world better. Oracy also promotes social mobility, empowering all students to find their voice and succeed academically and professionally, regardless of their background or socio-economic status.

The scale of the issue

The Communication Trust report 'Talking about a Generation' found that in many parts of the country, more than 50% of students start school lacking vital oracy skills.A study from the National Literacy Trust found that some pupils in inner-city classes contribute on average just four words per lesson. According to the Better Communication Research Programme, those with good communication skills are 4 times more likely to achieve GCSE grade 4 or higher. The EEF's teaching and learning toolkit shows how oracy can provide an additional six months of progress in learning.
When children are silent in class, whether due to language barriers, lack of confidence, or other reasons, it severely impacts their learning and prevents them reaching their potential.

How can multi-sensory, interactive resources support oracy?

Asmir in storyworld Wealth of Choices
Asmir in storyworld Wealth of Choices
While various stimuli can be used to foster discussion and drive oracy in the classroom, multi-sensory resources such as Lyfta's immersive stories are especially effective. Lyfta offers an incredibly broad range of multi-sensory stimuli which give opportunities for extended discussion.
Rather than a picture, an extract, a video, or a sound, the resources bring all these things together, creating engaged, emotive responses that enthuse learners and make them want to speak.
Through Lyfta, students are introduced to real people whose stories explore a wide range of emotions in a variety of different contexts. Encouraging students to use these stories to reflect on their own feelings and to identify and talk about similarities and differences is a powerful tool to spark discussion.
It is far easier for students to speak up when they feel connected and motivated, when they can relate to the topics and want their ideas and opinions heard. Lyfta's storyworlds encourage learners to be observational, to ask questions, to evaluate and reflect on what they experience.
Each of our lesson plans provide opportunities for extended, structured talk tasks, and all provide an exciting stimulus to teach and practise key oracy skills.

Examples of impact

We have seen many examples of impact in building oracy skills in schools using Lyfta. One such example came from Braunstone Primary School who have been using Lyfta for the last 2 years to increase students' cultural capital and understanding of the world.
Headteacher Halil Tamgumus told the story of one student who was inspired by Lyfta, to share her own story in a presentation, not just in class, but in a whole school assembly! There was much excitement leading up to the assembly and the student found her voice and took great pride in sharing her Kurdish culture and way of life with others, something she said she would not have had the confidence to do without her school's use of Lyfta.
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"Without Lyfta, I would never have felt confident to talk about my home country to children, let alone to the whole school. Lyfta has shown me that I can do anything that I want to, even when it might make me feel nervous."

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From storyworld Daily Bread
From storyworld Daily Bread
Another example came from Haleema Ahmed who was teaching at Three Bridges Primary School.
Haleema shared a story of a young boy who was a refugee from Afghanistan. This particular boy had been very quiet in class since his arrival and despite Haleema's continued efforts to encourage him to participate and find his voice, he remained quiet until a Lyfta storyworld sparked a surprise breakthrough!
Haleema invited her class to experience the Daily Bread Lyfta storyworld in which students are introduced to the owner of a small bakery in Kabul. The immersive story explores his life, the area he lives in and the traditional Afghan method of making bread. Students experience street life in Kabul through a 360° video of the market outside and can explore the bakery in a 360°.
For the first time, this child from Afghanistan saw himself and his identity being represented and celebrated. Other children became interested, asked questions. At last, eager to share his own experiences of the place, the food, and his heritage, he found his voice. This precious moment had a significant impact on his school experience. The way he interacted with those around him continued long after the lesson - it was nothing short of transformational.
Haleema started using Lyfta every Friday afternoon, inviting her students to explore different cultures, communities, and environments each week. She found that the platform created a classroom culture that valued and respected all voices, helping all students to find their own. Lyfta helped to level the playing field and enable every child to contribute to a rich and meaningful conversation.
Spring Partnership Trust in south London have seen great success in combining Lyfta's immersive resources with the powerful oracy-based learning tools from Voice 21 (the national oracy charity.) Read more here.
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"Combining Lyfta and the oracy framework have helped all students, including SEND and quieter children. The talk tokens ensure all get an opportunity to speak. In Lyfta sessions we pass a ball of wool around the class so everyone has a go. Students have learnt how to invite other children to participate, they often say ‘I noticed you haven't said anything' and involve them."

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Lyfta is a powerful tool that can help spark conversations in the classroom and enhance oracy. It creates a classroom culture that values and respects all voices, making it a great tool for celebrating diversity and inclusivity in schools. As educators, encouraging oracy and the ability to communicate is vital to the outcomes of the young people in our care. By using immersive and interactive storytelling, we can ensure that all voices are heard and that our students feel seen, heard, and valued.
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