“When is Rasheed time?”
” Is Mabel taking her nap? When can we wake her up?”
“What’s in the mystery box today?”
“Can we study my name today?”
“Did you know that my name has three vowels in it!”
These are the comments we are getting from kids about phonics! I have to say that I never really expected kids to be this charged up about word study, even with those cute mascots, but they are. The thing is, we (the teachers) are pretty excited about it too. Last year, our school implemented the new Phonics Units of Study from Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and we tried out some units in first grade last spring. This year we are on year two in kindergarten and going for full implementation in grade one. This spring we plan to try out a unit or two in grade two with full implementation next year.
Last week in first grade, we were doing a lesson that involved sorting snap (high frequency) words. The lesson started with the teacher modeling how you might sort all the words that have two letters (vs words that do not have two letters) and then all the words that start or end with a certain letter (vs. words that start or end in a different way). Then we handed out sets of snap words, white boards and markers to each group of students and asked them to find new ways to sort the words. We were astounded at what happened next.
First of all, every single student was 100% engaged. Everyone was leaning in, sorting snap word cards on the rug or writing the sort on the whiteboard. Then we looked at some of the sorts and we were just blown away! Some sorted words by the number of letters (words with two letters, three letters, four letters); some sorted words with the same vowel; some sorted words that had all short letters (vs tall or below the line letters); and some created sorts like this:
Can you figure out how these words are sorted?
This work is not only fun and important, it’s also extremely engaging for all, it meets multiple levels of need, we are seeing the work transfer to reading and writing, and it’s cognitively rigorous.
I can’t wait to see what Rasheed and Mabel (the cute mascots) have in store for us this week!