Redundantly putting together, sounding out, and stretching CVC words in order to build up our word count. We can read simple words and rhyme, but putting the letters together and really feeling for every letter sound changes the dynamic. It’s one thing to rhyme words and write out CVC word patterns for those rhyming -am, -at, -ed, etc. but to physically move around the letters to build words tends to change their thinking. This really peaks the interest of those kinesthetic and visual learners to physically grasp the concept of building words and sounds them out. When we can touch the letters and really think about the sounds they make that makes a difference when we go back to pencil and paper writing.
Students worked on building their words independently with some scaffolding on my part. Often times students would ask me to double check a word they had spelled or even to read their words aloud to me. After we were all finished spelling words, each student read their words aloud.
This phrase is so familiar with me as it’s always ringing in my head. Different ways in which we can share the pen with our students to encourage side-by-side writing. Every time I pull a group, we start with the same question, “what is today’s date?” Depending on the group’s abilities, the students help me spell out the day, month, and year. I demonstrate how we can stretch out words to help with spelling like Feb-bru-ary. This breakdown allows us a better chance to hear all the sounds in each word. We take turns whether I right out the date or if a student writes it.
We share the pen in other ways too, especially with my beginner students. One strategy we use of sharing the pen is that physical exchange of the pen. I’ll write a sentence on the whiteboard and then hand over then pen for a student to copy. I write a sentence, we read the sentence, and then take turns writing it out and reading it on their own. When the students take the pen, they are more aware of their writing. They notice where the letters should be touching the lines on their paper, capitalization, and punctuation. These students are still very new to us as well as to the United States. As they progress, our writing turns more into them forming the sentences with some scaffolding by giving them a word list, writing prompts, and their own illustrations to encourage more structure and fluidity in the writing process.
The ELL Teacher did this project the year before and the kids loved it, so we did it again this year. Her yard gathers acorns every year and she decided to make art with them. Adding some beads, pom poms, pipe cleaners, felt, yarn, popsicle sticks, and a lot of hot glue to embellish these acorns and create little people.
Depending on ability, students were asked to name and write about their acorn person. Our little learners stuck with naming and one thing their acorn person liked. Whereas older students wrote biographies about their people. The kids had a blast creating their own friend. The students would greet and dismiss their acorn people every day when being pulled for lessons they loved them so.
We took the project a step further this time by adding some technology. We spent another week recording each student with their acorn person. Students would first introduce themselves then their acorn person and share their writing. I took portraits of each individual acorn person to add along with the kids’ videos. In a matter of days….and 49 videos later, students and their families were able to access the videos on a private Youtube account.
Once the videos were completed and the photo shoot backdrop came down, all of the acorn people got reunited with their creator and taken to their forever home.