Thursday, February 04, 2010

A little extra help

Let me preface this by saying, I am not an elementary school teacher. I do NOT know what I am doing. I have no creativity when it comes to creating lesson plans -- just ask my students. What I do know is that Brynn's spelling needs work. Probably not more than a typical first grader, but since she is not practicing spelling in English at school this year, I have decided (at Scott's insistence) to work on it at home with her.

Here was my first method: Brynn wrote a story. It had a lot of misspelled words. I wrote them down (all 27 of them) and made her copy them correctly onto a piece of paper. By my own admission, this activity was not fun nor was it creative, but I figured it might get the job done. Not so much...Brynn got very angry about halfway through and said, "I ALREADY KNOW HOW TO SPELL THESE WORDS!!!" So I gave her a spelling test. After ten words, Scott looked over her shoulder and then turned to me and slid his throat across his neck. I looked at her quiz. She spelled most of the words wrong. That method of teaching spelling was a complete failure.

Shortly after that I emailed Brynn's kindergarten teacher who is also a reading specialist. She emailed me back right away (bless her heart, because I'm sure she has more than enough to do already without teaching me how to teach my kid how to spell). She told me to look into the six syllable types and work with Brynn on those.

I looked up the six syllable types and, honestly, it seemed over my head! It was like learning long division! Only with the most screwed up rules ever. But I persevered and managed to find some word lists from the six syllable types. Using those word lists, I pulled out some of the common letter groupings that we find in English words and put them onto cards. I also wrote out some individual letters. My hope was to have Brynn grab a letter pair or group and make it into a word. We've worked on it a bit, but it really requires my full concentration so we didn't put a lot of time into it until today.

Here is how it turned out.

First she wrote her name on her paper. Because ALL good students make their papers identifiable.

Then she got busy sorting through the pairs and groups of letters for something that might go together.
After a few minutes she found a couple of cards that she could put together and began to write out the word she had created.

Then she realized she had a cut on her thumb that seemed to prevent her from writing properly. I thought the lesson might end here, but she covered the cut in neosporin and a bandaid and went right back to work.

See? Happy now.

And she managed to make a word. Not the easiest word, either. And, no, I did not tell her how to spell this, so I'm thinking she's not actually as bad a speller as her parents might think.

Callie worked on her spelling this morning but she goes about it backwards. She thinks of words that she wants to spell (like purple, cradle, and unicorn) and then tries to figure out how to spell them. This is NOT how I intended to run the activity but she is so very stubborn that I had to give in a few times. My thought was that she could find a card that says ed and then think of words that end in an -ed sound and add the necessary letters to the front. She didn't like that idea. So, she invited some friends over and while Brynn was figuring out how to spell apple, Callie was upstairs with her best buddies trying on princess dresses and covering herself in tatoos. And, as it turns out, that worked out much better!

1 comment:

Court said...

Ah, making words! (or in your case syllables. I haven't done it your way, but i have two Making words/big words books. I am sure you can find a ton of it online, but can send you some if you'd like. It is very similar to what you are doing, but individual letters building from small words and in the end all letters are used to create one big word. I have other spelling center ideas that you could use/adapt if you want them. Let me know!