Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Back to the Basics

This year I've been trying to be more involved in my school... I sit on a newly formed learning leaders team and I'm on the ground floor of an iPad initiative in our school. But with all this change and the introduction of technology I've realized how important it is to get back to the basics.

We are almost 90 days into the school year and I still have a few children who know little to no letter sounds. I've been struggling to find ways to meet these students needs and help them learn the letter names and the corresponding sounds... I had tunnel vision... how can technology help these children... and then we had a PD with a literacy coach and it hit me, these kids don't need technology, they need good old fashioned, back to the basics, teaching... and I mean back to the basics, back to when schools had no technology, back to before the demands of the common core, back to when schools first started and children started to learn the ABCs, basic, simple learning.

I'm excited to say that the literacy coach that came to meet with us really light a fire under my behind and the wheels of inspiration have been spinning. So after our meeting here is what my new game plan is...

First I'm going to be working with these children at least twice a week in a small group. My ultimate goal is to work with them in small groups almost every day, but for now I'm going to focus on meeting with these kids twice a week.

  • Warm up: drill up to 5 letters/sounds (3-4 of these will be letters the group as a whole knows and a 1-2 letters they are unfamiliar with)
  • Reading Words: I will create flashcards with C-V-C words on them. These words will be three letter words using only the 5 letters we are working on. I will print these C-V-C words on white card stock. I will also have two or three word wall words printed on colored card stock. There will be no more than 10 flashcards in all. The idea behind the two different colored card stock is to help the students realize which words they should know and which words they can sound out. We will practice reading and tapping these words.
  • Writing Practice: We will end the group session in one of two ways. Option 1: practice identifying beginning sounds (one of the 5 we worked on) and write the corresponding letter on white boards. Option 2: practice writing some of the words or a simple sentence using the flashcards we practiced.
This is my rough outline of what I'm hoping to do with this small group... I'm meeting tomorrow with our curriculum coordinator to help hash out all of the details and make a formal plan for these lessons.

Another inspiration hit when I was working with my daughter on her letter homework. In her nursery school they do one letter for about two weeks. I've noticed that the letters we relate to people and things she loves she is having an easier time remembering. What a great idea! So simple and yet I was so stuck in the idea of incorporating technology into everything that I forgot to think about the basics. I'm going to have these kids bring in pictures of loved ones and things they love for each letter of the alphabet and make an alphabet book for with them. These personal alphabet books, I hope, will help them remember the names of the letters and the sounds of each letter. I'm still working on how I want to format this activity but the wheels are turning.

I have to say this return to the basics is kind of exciting. I'm all for technology in the classroom and I know there are great ways to incorporate technology in our day to day, but this whole back to the basics idea has me very excited... I'm intrigued to see how this all works out and I really hope that I can get my little kiddies to master the alphabet over the next few months! Do you have any tips and tricks for teaching little ones the alphabet when they are struggling?

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