Well this is embarrassing! School has taken over the past few weeks, so my blog posts have been few and far…f-a-r between. I must do better!
So, what has been happening in your classroom?
Probably the same thing that has been happening in my classroom!
So many successes in letter and sound recognition, number recognition, learning about shapes, REAL writing during writer’s workshop, and the list goes on and on. I have enjoyed a very positive first quarter with a group of children who have mastered letters/sounds and are simply a joy to work with. Life has been great! So happy to have had that experience. Now, life is going to get REAL.
I will be receiving half of the group of our struggling readers, so I have been getting my arsenal of tools ready for intense letters/sounds, names, and word study.
Here is one successful strategy that works with
wiggly, less attentive students who at times have little more focus than that of a flea :). I call it my 10-10 strategy. Research shows that most children will only focus for about ten minutes, but I find it is more like 7 or 8. That small period of time must count because it accurately “frames” our real window of focus time (pun intended!).
My 10-10 strategy goes something like this:
We always begin with our alphabet chant. This is the set I made, but any large format alphabet chart will work. My motive for making my own is so I could have small chartlets on table chart stands for practice during transition times. My students are now pointing to random letters with partners to practice fluency. This set can be found here.
I have an alphabet slideshow that loops continuously, so we do three rounds of the alphabet. We end with a kinesthetic activity that gets kids moving. To begin with, we clap Aa and stomp Bb, clap Cc, and stomp Dd, and so on. (A-a, apple, B-b, balloon–we say the letter, the sound and the object for each letter). After we finish the entire alphabet chant set, I start again and point at random letters telling students they should hop up if they know “this” letter (I do not say the letter name). Students who hop up must state the letter and sound, then sit down. We do this for about two minutes. Then it is time to sit and play our next game. I begin by introducing our focus letter or letters, then here comes round two of 10-10!
Round 2 (the next 10 minutes):
My little friends will not be ready for plickers yet, but when they are, we will do some individual assessment work and have fun with Mary’s alphabet activities for use with Plickers. Have you heard of Plickers.com? If you haven’t you’d better go read all about it! I love it, and my students love seeing their name with a green light by it when they answer correctly! Here is Mary’s set:
Here is what I WILL begin with:
Students love to catch a ball or a bean bag, so I use this to my advantage. Up until last week, I had been holding up alphabet cards for students to identify, then threw the ball when they answered correctly. This game really gets 100% involvement because throughout the game you remind students to watch each letter card so they will know the letter the next time it is their turn.
Now, I know you will want to give every little friend a little gratification during the first game to get them invested in the activity, but after that, be “Supernanny” tough! Do not let them catch a ball unless they state the letter correctly. By the time you get to them again, chances are they have been cramming for the test by looking at the class alphabet chart! Even the toughest customers will eventually come around because they do not want to miss out!
So, why the “up until last week” part (mentioned above)? I happened to mention to my neighbor that I was using this technique, and that nice girl was generous enough to let me borrow her bucket of alphabet balls! I love these things! They are definitely going on my wish list for next year. Even if I have to make some! Lakeshore’s site says they are discontinued. Sad, sad…
What about centers? We will have controlled center choices because the new little friends need boundaries. I will rotate them through letter stamping, letter matching, letter hunting, and more! Here are a few seasonal center ideas.