Students have more choices than ever. My cabinet is overflowing with teacher made games, games I bought from catalogues, and games that have been given to me. We have computer and web-based games. Add iPads and a plethora of apps into the equation and the result could be confusion for students.
We do reader’s workshop in my classroom. As a result, I try to “guide” students as they make choices. My goal is for them to reflect upon themselves as a reader and choose the literacy activities that will help them achieve their goals. We track progress together and we also celebrate when goals are mastered.
I found, however, after integrating iPads into my literacy block for word work, students began to lose sight of their goals. The range of abilities is vast in my room and so I purposefully chose apps that will meet the needs of all students. There are apps for sight word practice, apps for vocabulary, and apps for grammar. Some apps are meant to reinforce the foundational skills beginning readers need while others are meant to broaden a fluent reader’s vocabulary. I do not want each student using the same apps. They are meant to promote growth. (Not to keep students busy.)
As a result, I took time to develop a word work planning sheet. The sheet has the various research based word work/spelling activities that students need to grow as readers. Students use the sheet over the course of a week and cross out an activity as it is completed. Most students will make appropriate choices. Others, however, need a little more guidance and so we discuss the plan together and highlight an appropriate choice for that day.
You might be wondering what impact the plan sheet had on my class. I am very pleased. Students make deliberate choices during our literacy block and enjoy purposeful learning as a result.
*Here is another post by “The Word Lady” highlighting how teachers can meaningfully teach vocabulary to students. Today’s topic is family words. Click on Jill Negrete’s lesson plan at the bottom of this post to find out more!
As teachers of beginning readers, we have our hands full at times. We are trying to open up a new world to our students (a language based, print rich world). A child’s background knowledge plays a large role in identifying words, while reading, at this early age because they rely upon what makes sense when they read words. Sometimes students make sense as they read. Sometimes they do not.
What happens if they don’t? How can I help my students be successful? A good friend, and reading recovery teacher, taught me to carefully select books as I plan my reading lessons. Students with language issues can experience a lot of frustration as they read if the language the author uses is unusual and does not make sense to them.
The Word Lady is also teaching me to deliberately teach vocabulary. When the vocabulary component of our new reading program focussed on family words, Jill Negrete ran with it. She made the abstract come to life!
Students dressed up to illustrate the concept of parents. (The father wore a hat and the mother wore a necklace.) Their children held a ball to show that they were in fact children. When the children grew up they put on a hat or a necklace to signal that they were now adults. In the end, we had a real life family tree with grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, cousins, nieces and nephews!