Children’s Communication Development

November 1, 2004

Communication 422 – Children’s Communication Development

Dr. Armeda C. Reitzel
Professor, Communication
National Service-Learning Peer Mentor
Office: Telonicher House (#54), Room 110,

Course Description:
This 4 semester unit course covers the language and communication behavior of children from birth through early adolescence. Strategies for facilitating language development in children and improving communication with children are emphasized.

A service-learning experience with children is a critical component of this course.

Course Objectives:

1. You will define and explain the concepts of communication, language, competence, performance, acquisition, learning, communication climate, multiculturalism, and multilingualism.

2. You will articulate, analyze and evaluate the major theories of language and communication development.

3. You will explain how cognitive, moral, social, and physical development influence children’s communication behavior.

4. You will describe the role of language, communication, culture, and identity in children’s thinking, attitudes, and actions.

5. You will describe children’s development in terms of verbal and nonverbal communication.

6. You will apply the principles of communication to explain children’s behavior in a variety of contexts.

7. You will identify and use appropriate strategies of communication for interacting with children in a variety of contexts.

8. You will explain the philosophy and pedagogy of Service-learning.

9. You will explain how the core values of Cesar Chavez constitute the foundation for the Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning.

10. You will apply the principles and strategies of communication to your service-learning experiences.


Atkin, S. Beth. Voices from the Fields: Children of Migrant Farmworkers Tell Their Stories. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company. 1993.

Haggerty, Patricia M. Oral History: Let Their Voices Be Heard. Clemson, SC: National Dropout Prevention Center. 2000.

Klopp, Carole, Pamela Toole, and James Toole. Pondering Learning: Connecting Multiple Intelligences and Service Learning. Clemson, SC: National Dropout Prevention Center. 2001.

Smith, Patricia G. Ed. Talking Classrooms: Shaping Children’s Learning Through Oral Language Instruction. Newark, DE: International Reading Association. 2001.

Graded Activities:

4 exams: 65%
Exam #1: Feb. 12
Exam #2: March 14
Exam #3: April 25
Exam #4: May 28

Service-learning projects and assignments: 35%
You are to engage in a minimum of 15 hours of service in the community in which you work directly with children or in an organization that serves children.

The goals of this project include:

a. providing authentic service to meet a community need
b. applying the principles of communication to your interactions with children
c. reflecting on your knowledge of and skills in working with children
d. articulating the benefits and challenges of Service-learning and civic engagement

There will be a series of structured reflections throughout the semester that you will put into a Service-learning scrapbook. Some of the reflections will take place during class time. The finalized scrapbook is due at the beginning of class on May 2.

The scrapbook, at a minimum, needs to include:

1) A cover that visually represents your service learning experiences, followed by a verbal description of the meaning/symbolism of the visual cover.

2) A log that clearly delineates where, when, and what you did for each of the 14 hours. You must include the site supervisor’s name and phone number for each activity on the log.

3) A copy of the service learning agreement for each project signed by all partners.

4) All of the structured reflections assigned throughout the semester.

5) A final, formal reflection of up to 4 single spaced, typed pages (size 12 font, in times or times new roman) in which you select, report and reflect on three specific incidents that occurred during your service learning experiences that were significant to you in terms of material we have covered about children’s communication development during the course of our semester. I will be looking for the direct application of course content in your paper. It is vital that you make specific references to class lectures/discussions and/or our textbooks in your paper. I will also be looking for proper bibliographic referencing.

I need to have your completed service learning agreements (signed by you and your site supervisor) before you can begin counting hours. You also need to sign a document stating that you are not getting paid for the hours you are counting for Service-learning in this class.

Weekly Activities

Week 1 (Jan. 22 & 24): Introduction to children’s language and communication development

Week 2 (Jan. 29 & 31): Language, communication, speaker intuitions, competence & performance

Week 3 (Feb. 5 & 7): Service-learning, service-learning, service-learning! Read Pondering Learning: Connecting Multiple
Intelligences and Service Learning and chapter 3 in Talking Classrooms. NCES SUMMIT AT HSU ON FEB. 8 9.

Week 4 (Feb. 12 & 14): Exam #1 on Feb. 12; Cesar Chavez and the new Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning; Oral histories; Read Oral History: Let Their Voices Be Heard and pp. 5 25 in Voices from the Fields (“Foreword,” “Introduction,” “La Fresa,” and “Hogar.”).

Week 5 (Feb. 19 & 21): Finding their voices: Children’s speaking, listening, reading and writing; Issues of literacy; Issues of culture; Read chapters 1, 2, 5 and 6 in Talking Classrooms. HSU SERVICE-LEARNING CONFERENCE ON FEB. 22 23.

Week 6 (Feb. 26 & 28): Early language and communication development: phonology & morphology.

Week 7 (March 5 & 7): Early language and communication development: syntax & semantics; interviewing children.

Week 8 (March 12 & 14): MARCH 12: CARE FAIR FOR CHILDREN (to be held at Eureka High School); Exam #2 on March 14.


Week 9 (March 26 & 28): Cognitive and moral development of children MARCH 28: THE CESAR CHAVEZ DAY OF SERVICE AND LEARNING “TEACH IN”

Week 10 (April 2 & 4): Social development; children’s friendships; physical development; children under stress; communication apprehension.

Week 11 (April. 9 & 11): Issues of cultural diversity and gender related to children’s communication and development

Week 12 (April 16 & 18): Issues cultural and linguistic diversity, including teaching the “English language learners” in schools and the community; Dr. Reitzel will report on her experiences at the TESOL conference in Salt Lake City; Read chapter 4 in Talking Classrooms.

Week 13 (April 23 & 25): Communicating with children with disabilities; Exam #3 on April 25.

Week 14 (April 30 & May 2): Classroom communication; Service learning scrapbook due on May 2; Read chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10 in Talking Classrooms.

Week 15 (May 7 and 9): Theoretical perspectives on children’s communication development; Some final thoughts.

Final exam period: Exam #4

School: Humboldt State University
Professor: Armeda C. Reitzel
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