Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Learning About Letters and Sounds

This term I have made a very conscious effort to make learning about letters and sounds part of every writing and reading lesson to try to increase learners alphabet sound knowledge and thereby increase their knowledge of high frequency words.

 I have  explained to the children the importance of knowing the shape of letters (what they look like) and the sounds they make individually.  We have touched on sounds that some letters make together in our reading groups with learners who have already got a good grasp of alphabet sound knowledge but for others we are still looking at individual letters.   I have also explained that writing and reading are linked and that writing is the recorded form of what we say.  During either subject I will point out something we have focused on in one subject and are now making use of it in the other subject so that the children are aware of the link.

We begin every writing lesson using the "Butterfly Chart" to say individual alphabet letter names, the sound it makes, a word that begins with the letter and to add a bit of fun a child in the class whose name that begins with the particular letter.  Some children are now suggesting other words that might begin the same way.

During writing we model whole class co construction of ideas into sentences.  Magnetic high frequency words that are on their "Butterfly Charts" are arranged on the board in the same format.  The children help find and put these words into the appropriate place in the sentence.  I am finding that others will help someone find a word by giving them clues and time to think such as "It's in the yellow box and it starts with the letter 'w' that makes the sound 'www'."  Some learners find the prompts done in a friendly way helpful and makes them pleased to achieve.

In reading I also make alphabet formation as well as high frequency words part of the teaching segment as well as part of the rotation each day.  Karen Belt has made some very useful activities that can be used independently as part of the rotation each day.   These activities have sound bites so that the children can hear the sound as well as write it.  They are able to listen again and again while looking at the word, identify other things around the room that start with the same letter and take photos of them.  Other activities include sound bites to listen to and writing high frequency words at the magenta, red and yellow levels.

As a team we are working through the iPad reading activities, adding slides with additional word work in different formats.  We discuss why we have added them, which WALT we have used to justify the addition and also how our learners found them.  This sharing of our knowledge and suggestions has been very helpful.

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