Word Work is a very important part of reading class. We spend a few minutes a couple of times a week making words and it is one of my centers.
When we make words as an entire class I print a page with letters on it and the students cut apart the letters at the beginning of class. Then, I call out a series of words and the students have to make the words out of the letters they have.
For the letters above the first word would be “is”, then when would make “it”, then they would change “it” to “kit” and so on. We go through making maybe 10 words. The goal of the activity is for the students to figure out the word they can make with all of their letters. In this case the word is “tricks”. I use a book called, Making Words, to generate this activity. This has been a difficult task for the students and it has been very enlightening for me as a teacher. I walk around and keep notes of the students having difficulty and if I have time I make note of the words they are struggling to make to see if I can find a pattern to their difficulty. If I can find the pattern, then I can offer specific help. This is a great activity because the students are manipulating sounds and matching letters to the sounds.
I also have a word work center. I am switching between playing Boggle, which the kids love, and playing a game I found for the iPads, Moxie 2. The kids LOVE Moxie more than Boggle. At first I thought the game would be too difficult for them, but they love it! They are begging to play in their free time now and I don’t have the heart to explain to the them that they are LEARNING while playing! Moxie 2 gives the students three rows of letters and then pops up new letters. The students have to insert the new letter into one of the three rows of words to make a new word! It is brilliant!
I made this recording sheet for the students to keep up with the words they make and their point total at the end of the game. Click on the picture to get the form.
I had a teacher tell me today that she wished we could just go back to teaching the “old” way, that technology did not add anything to lessons and it was easier to teach before technology.
This statement reminds me of several things. The first of which was something a teacher said to me many years ago. She said, ” Do you think teachers had this hard of a time when the pencil was invented?” If you thing about that it really does make sense. Teachers probably did grumble and complain when students were getting up all day to sharpen that new fangled contraption – the pencil!
The other thing that this reminds me of is a quote from John Dewey, “If we continue to teach today, as we did yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow!” This was said nearly 100 years ago but it is still so true! We as teachers cannot continue to teach the same way year after year! Like it or not our students need to learn in a way that is applicable to them!
We, as teachers, HAVE GOT TO BE WILLING TO LEARN! I cannot imagine not wanting to learn something new! My principal says all the time that as soon as we quit learning it is time to retire! Why do teachers think they can use the same old lesson plans year after year and still engage and motivate their students (There is a time and place for tried and true lessons – but every subject, every day)? If we as teachers don’t want to learn, what message are we sending to our students? Clearly the message is that we don’t value learning, so why should they?
So, my answer to this veteran teacher is, that we have got to learn technology, because we need to reach students where they are, not where we are. Students are using technology! Students are wired all the time! If we want to engage and motivate, we need to be wired too!
One of my favorite things is to use technology in whatever class I am teaching. However, when I use technology I want to be sure that I am using technology in meaningful ways to enhance my curriculum. There are a lot of ways to use technology that do not enhance curriculum and just replace what we did before. For example, a lot of my fourth-grade students last year decided to start using their iPads for their Reader’s Notebook rather than a spiral bound notebook. I allowed the students to do this and didn’t have any problem with them using one form of technology to replace paper and pencil – HOWEVER, this is not meaningfully using technology as a tool to help my students retain more information.
I want my students to love reading and I want them to love to come to reading class. I also want my students to really work with texts to understand mood and theme of the text. One way to do this is to have students use technology. My FAVORITE way to use technology is having students make book trailers. Book Trailers are an incredible way to grab students attention and love of technology and combine it meaningfully with reading! The students LOVE making book trailers. When making a book trailer students have to think about the most important parts of the book and relate them to the viewer. The students also have to think about the mood of the book. I always tell my students that I should not hear Disco music if the book was a serious book! The students have to match music and pictures to the mood and theme of the book! It is a perfect way to use iPads in the classroom! iMovie even has pre-made book trailers in their library for students to use! I allow my students to use the templates in iMove for the first couple of book trailers and then they have to graduate to making them from scratch in the expanded form of iMovie. You don’t have to use iMove, you could use any video app or software that you have.
I have used book trailers in 4th and 5th grade. This year I am teaching a 3rd grade reading class and I am going to attempt book trailers with them as well. Below is an example of a book trailer from the book Hatchet. Here is a link to my dropbox folder on Book Trailers. I have taken some of these templates from all over the web – all free. I have adjusted them to suit my needs.
I will continue in this series of posts about technology in reading with how we have used Puppet Pals in reading class.
One of my jobs as curriculum coordinator is to make sure that my school is aligned with what we are doing through the grade levels. One thing we found that was not aligned was our sounds decks for our primary grades.
When we taught phonics sounds to our kindergartner’s we may have taught them the “ck” sound with duck, and then in 1st grade we might have used quack and in 2nd grade we might have used lock. We thought it would be best if we designed sound decks for all of our grade levels that were the same. We didn’t want to have to pay for sound decks, so I created them.
As part of our word work time each day in our primary grades our teachers spend just a few minutes going through their sound decks. We find that this quick and simple practice each day is helping our students – especially our struggling readers. This is the second year that our teachers are using the same sound decks. I know this is not the fun, exciting part of teaching, but some rote memorization is required for our students. We try to balance out the rote memorization of sound decks with word ladders, making words, and exciting literacy centers. We believe that spending a few minutes each day reviewing phonics sounds pays off huge dividends!
Click on the picture of each sound deck below for the link to download. I made two sets of cards – larger cards with a chevron background or smaller cards that you can print and put on your own scrapbook paper background (or leave plain!). I haven’t gotten the vowel digraphs on Chevron yet – I will do that soon, so that when you click the link they will be in the same folder!
Long Vowel Cards