WSA-EC is an initiative championed by ELIS to equip teachers in the school on using the right language to help students build subject-specific vocabulary. As a whole-school approach, it allows for a greater involvement by all stakeholders and for the WSA-EC activities to be integrated into the existing structures within the school such as the weekly Staff Contact Time, Assembly or departmental professional development sessions.
Under WSA-EC five core communication skills are identified to help students hold productive academic conversations across content areas. These skills include elaborating and clarifying, supporting ideas with evidence, building on and/or challenging ideas, paraphrasing, and synthesizing. Through professional sharing by WSA-EC champions, teachers learn how to weave the cultivation of academic conversation skills into their teaching approaches. More specifically, it describes how to use classroom conversations to build the following:
· Academic vocabulary and grammar
· Critical thinking skills such as persuasion, interpretation, consideration of multiple perspectives, evaluation, and application
· Literacy skills such as questioning, predicting, connecting to prior knowledge, and summarizing
· Complex and abstract essential understandings in content areas such as adaptation, human nature, bias, conservation of mass, energy, gravity, irony, democracy, greed, and more
· An academic classroom environment brimming with respect for others' ideas, equity of voice, engagement, and mutual support