Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Letter of the Week-Yay or Nay?

There are many debates about weather Letter of the Week and if it is best practice or not.  I want to explain my stance on it and how it works in MY room.  Not all classrooms are the same, not all districts will agree.  That is ok-consider this an opinion piece.

Let me start by saying I teach 4k.  That means my students must be 4 by September 1st.  This is the first school experience by many, we do not use common core, and we are a play based room.  That means my students come in to play, learn the critical social and emotional skills related to school, and then gain as much academics as they are personally ready for to help them prepare for kindergarten. This is my 4th year teaching and in my past 3 years I have had students come in my room at a vareity of starting points as far as letter recognition, but EVERY SINGLE YEAR 88%-100% of students leave passing their PALS levels!

I do use Letter of the Week in my room.  This does not mean I teach the letters in isolation. I want the kids to have memorable experiences with the letters to help them make connections, have fun with learning, and PLAY.  We play with letters.  I cannot play with all the letters at once and have them have meaning.  Therefore, we play with the letters one at a time.  At the same time, during calendar we talk about the letter in its environment on the month, the day, etc regardless of letter of the week.  When we are doing a shared reading or writing, we talk about all the letters regardless of the letter of the week.

Ways to Play with letters: ~~Yes, I do all of these with each letter of the week!
Get to come up to the teacher board and write them (easel)
Sing about them (We use Literacy Links)
Make a sound symbol (Also from Literacy Links)
Decorate the letter with something that sounds like that letter*
Make a hand print activity for the letter*

*We make a book with these.  School Supplies consist of 30 page protectors.  We put them together with binder rings and they have a book with a letter and an image.  They use this for reading once the alphabet is done.  These books also help teach critical early reading skills such as 1:1 correspondance, left to right, one touch for one word (not syllable), figuring out the word if they are ready, knowing if the words are ___ the the illustration is going to be ____

Book Template available HERE

Daily Environmental:
Calendar Month
Calendar Day
Center Names
Room Lables
Job Names
Their Name

Shared Reading: Poem of the week 
Find letters in the poem
If I hear the __ sound in __.  If I hear ___ what letter is this right here?

Shared Writing: Class Book
Pick a topic the whole Class can relate to (a trip, a theme, school, etc)
Have children illustrate the page (either everyone make a page or work as a team to make a page).
Have students come up and write what they hear *with class help* in the correct spot on book. Teacher can finish.

To Review:
  • play with letters
  • sing about letters
  • have fun with letters
  • use the letters
  • Teach in isolation
  • skip teaching a letter because its not the letter of the week
  • only talk about that letter for the whole week
  • skip environmental text 
  • skip literacy activities like shared writing/shared reading

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