How to teach Letters, etc?

Discussion in 'Early Childhood Education Archives' started by hojalata, Aug 12, 2005.

  1. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    Aug 12, 2005

    Hiya,
    I have a Kindergarten interview on Thursday! (First interview ever) The only thing is that I don't have any Kindergarten experience! My question is, how do you teach the letters and sounds without doing a few-letters-a-week thing? I don't really like the idea of doing the few-letters-a-week thing because it just seems like that would take too long, and by the time you finished with the letters, you'd already have to have started teaching the 40 or so sight words they're expected to know by the end of Kindergarten. If you don't do it using this planned out, week-by-week method, how do you do it? How are you sure that you're hitting each letter and teaching the sound it makes? Also, any other insights on Kindergarten would be greatly appreciated! Thanks :)
    Heather
     
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  3. Mable

    Mable Enthusiast

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    I have to recommend Butterfly Park Phonics. We didn't have a reading series and this program was great. Begins with letters into making words. You've got to check it out if you're looking for a great program and don't have lots to spend.

    Another book that was given raves was No More Letter of the Week by Pat Lusche buy at Amazon for $19.95.

    I wanted to give you this plug so you could possibly learn a program and use it in future interviews. Hope it helps.

    It's wonderful if you have a scope and sequence to help guide you when you teach your letters.

    I start with letter sounds and start to get kiddos to recognize the beginning sounds of words. Then we work on ending sounds and then middle sounds. All the while, teaching letter sounds..but really intergrating all the other skills. Then they can begin to make words if they know letter sounds and you'll see it in their writing (do lots of writing with them). Of course, vowels as "letter sounds" get tricky, that's why I like the Butterfly Park Phonics program. Here's how it teaches letters and sounds in order from day one-

    l, h, d, i, p, o, c, ch, a, oo, t, th, b, r, u, k,j, f, g, qu, ou, e, s, sh, w, ow, why, y, y, n, v, z, m, x
     
  4. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Aug 13, 2005

    Do some research. Try and find out what hand writing program they use, what math program. Have lined out how your day would go. What would you be doing during literacy time. Make sure you understand balanced literacy program......
    If the school has a website see if there is a kindergarten link.
    Good luck!
     
  5. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    Aug 13, 2005

    Thank you for the tips! I definitely want to check out those books! :) Here's what I want to include in my "balanced literacy" program for the Kindergarteners:

    Shared Reading: Reading together as a class to build a reading community, learn vocabulary words, concepts of print, etc. We'd read lots of rhyming poems and predictable books.

    Guided Reading: Leveled Instruction - Probably meet with groups while the other students have choice time. (What does guided reading look like at the K level?)

    Read Aloud: Every day, throughout the day - Just for run, fiction and non-fiction, and relating to our unit theme.

    DEAR time:A quiet time (probably for just about 15 minutes to start) where kids can read books, look at books, or "pretend read" books (including the class book we'll make) This is some time I can work with a small group of struggling students one-on-one.

    Handwriting/Working with Words/Letters/Popcorn Words: Time for direct instuction and practice on how to form letters, the sounds the letters make, beginning/middle/ending sounds of words, popcorn words (sight words), etc.

    Interactive Writing: Probably part of a morning message and also I want to do at least one "class book" a week..something like: My favorite animal is a snake. (Dan) My favorite animals is a dog. (Emma) etc.

    Modeled Writing: Me modeling writing for the kids, preparing them for independeng writing.

    Independent Writing - Students writing independently

    Questions!!
    1)What am I forgetting? 2)How do I relate this all together? 3)At the beginning of the year, how do you write with Kindergarteners when they can't really write? Pictures?

    Thanks for all your help, you guys are the best. :)
     
  6. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Aug 13, 2005

    That looks great.
    At the begining of the year writing for kindergarteners is mostly pictures and their name on the picture. They can also label their pictures. If it's a tree they can put a T for tree or what ever letter they think tree starts with. As they progress they can start writing sentences.
    When we do read allouds with our kindergarteners the teacher has high lighted the popcorn words in the books uses that tape. Anyway it helps the kids to realize the words are used in writing. And it's not just a word on the wall.
    Sounds like you really have given this a lot of thought.
    Good luc! I hope you get the job.
     
  7. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    I also model writing on the overhead for the kids. I explain to them there are all kinds of writing and show samples. Example: picture writing, scribble writing, writing just letters, and adult writing. I explain to them that they all can write and they all may do it differently, for now, but we will work on it daily. I will then model a sentence using the different forms. Example sentence: My dog likes to play fetch.
    First I would just draw my dog, then I would add scribble writing, then random letters, then try sounding out some words which may look like this:
    Mi dg ls 2 pa ft. ANd then I would write it using adult writing. This gives them a good overview of the steps to use. I am always talking about each word as I write it out too.....thinking aloud. I discuss capitals, spaces, end marks, etc. Before I let them start writing, I also like to make sure they have their ideas ready.....so they don't get to the table and stare blankly into space. They need to be ready to write, so I always have them tell me what they will be writing about. I usually choose a topic for them in the beginning. The most important thing to remember is MODEL, MODEL, MODEL!
     
  8. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    Aug 13, 2005

    That is such a great idea! I never thought about modeling the different ways kids can write..from pictures up through "adult writing." I can see how this would be so useful to kids. Thank you so much!
     
  9. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Kinderkids, I teach Preschool. What order do you think I should be introducing the letters in...or doesn't it matter? I have always read and been told that it doesn't matter? What is your opnion on this? I do one letter a week and we finish in early spring. By then most of the kids are recognizing most letters and writing some.
     
  10. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Aug 13, 2005

    Good Morning, Grammy!
    Gosh, I don't know if there is a correct way to introduce them For myself, when I taught PreK, I went in order......easier for my mind to work that way! How do you do it now? I know many have a certain order, not alphabetically, but I have never tried it that way. I like the predicatability that came with teaching them in order. I'm sure some would disagree. :)
     
  11. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    You're welcome, but I can't take credit for that idea! I went to a fabulous workshop for K teachers a year or two ago and it was all about reading and writing connection in k. This is something i took away from that workshop, and it really works......tried and tested, so I hope you can use it too! :)
     
  12. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    I have always done the letters in order too...so will probably continue with that. I like your ideas on teaching "writing" with the kids. I have some who are ready for that about midway through the year. I have a very young 5 year old girl who can write lots of words. Her K teacher will have a blast with her!
    I'll be hit and miss on the forum today. Our one and only grandson is here and he is "1"... so needs lots of one on one! Sleeping right now and I should be ... but so much to do. It reminds me of when our kids were little and I was always on the go and tired out. My doctor would YELL at me to get some rest...but of course I never listened!
     
  13. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Oh, gotta love the grandkids! My boys are gone to door county today with a friend! Yay, some peace and quiet, hahaha. I love doing writing with the kids.........it has always been one of my favorites to teach! It is one of those areas you can really see such growth in a year, and the kids are always amazed with themselves, too :)
     
  14. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    Aug 13, 2005

    It would be cute to do a "1st day of Kindergarten/Last Day of Kindergarten" writing sample so show the parents at the end of the year. I bet they'd be amazed! :)
     
  15. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    I do that exact thing! :) At the end of the year I put together a "memory book" from the year and include samples from each months work, a lot of writing.......how they wrote their name, upper and lowercase letters, journal writing, self portraits, etc. The parents love it! I also hang onto their journals and they take them home at the end of the year. I like to share journals with parents at our Nov. conferences. I point out to them what stage of "writing" development they are in, what I am looking for , and how I have seen growth already. I spend quite a bit of time on that. I have a checklist of things I am looking for in their writing by the end of the year.......I also share this with parents too. A lot of times, I think parents are amazed that writing has such a direct connection to reading.
     
  16. iujeff

    iujeff Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2005

    Hojalata
    A follow-up thought is to keep one writing sample per month for the whole year. Then you can see the little improvement steps throughout the 9 months. Send home in May and parents will rave about the development.
    You mentioned making class books. One way to avoid doing the letter of the week in class is to send home one letter of the week page each Monday for 26 weeks, and parents and students sit down and draw pics or cut pics from magazines of words beginning with that letter. Parents and kids love doing it in my class, and each Friday they return them, hole punch them, and put them in our class alphabet book. It is complete A-Z by March.
    Another fun alphabet activity is drawing letters or spelling names in sand trays with fingers or craft sticks. Further, if each child has a name card, you can hide them in the room. Each child has to go find just 1 card, bring it back to circle, and tell whose name it is, or ask kids in the group if it is their name to figure it out. Advanced kids will spell the name for you, and you can spell that name for a beginning learner. The kids love to hunt for things.
    I have taught K and now teach PreK, and I have successfully used these ideas for both grade levels. Hope they help.
     
  17. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    Aug 13, 2005

    That is a great idea about having the students do the letter-a-week-thing at home with their parents instead of at school! It's sort of an introduction to homework, and it's a great time for parents to spend with their children. Does each student make his/her own Alphabet book?

    Has anyone tried the Building Blocks thing? They suggest learning the letters/sounds by studying one student's name every day (you use the name in other activities too, and this person is the 'Person of the Day') I think this is a good idea, but I just would feel a little...uneasy...about not having a structured way of teaching the letters and sounds. I mean, it's structured, but you might his some letters more than others, etc. I don't know, I'm so confused :)

     
  18. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    Here's another quick question: do you think it'd be too weird if I printed out and took with me to the interview 1) a sample daily schedule 2)the things I'd want to include in my reading/writing program (similar to what I put above). That way, if they ask me a question like "What would your day look like?" I could say, "Well, actually, I put together a sample day, and I have it here. This is what it would look like..." I don't have any Kindergarten experience, so it's really important to me that they know I understand the "specialties" of teaching K. So would it be okay to bring some things I've printed out, or is that too much like a "cheat sheet" or something? THANKS! :)
     
  19. epatterson

    epatterson Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2005

    KidWriting

    A great book for teaching writing in the primary grades, especially K, is KidWriting by Eileen Feldgus. It talks about where to start with kindergarten children and we also make a lot of books in the first half of the year. Take a look at it -- it is great for writing ideas!
     
  20. Margo

    Margo Devotee

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    I absolutely love Building Blocks. :love: I think they learn their letters so much more quickly that way. I supplement our regular reading series with Building Blocks and by the time the letter gets introduced in the series, they have already learned it through Building Blocks. :D
     
  21. iujeff

    iujeff Rookie

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    Hojalata,
    To answer your question, no, I have always just made a class book that I keep in a ring binder folder. My reason is that there will always be kids whose parents could care less and will never turn in a page. In that case, I will do a page with that child one on one in class to ensure they get at least a few pages in our book, though I don't have time to do it every week with kids who do not do them at home.
    I think taking the daily schedule to your interview is an excellent idea too. It shows your preparation and energy.
     
  22. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    The two teachers that were hired at the school I work at and interviewed for kindergarten, brought cheat sheets. And those are the two that got hired.
     
  23. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    Aug 13, 2005

    Great! Thanks a lot everyone. I feel about 1000x better going into this interview now than I did yesterday :) I will definetely bring a "cheat sheet." I think, if nothing else, it will show that I took time to prepare for the interview. :) Epatterson, thanks for recommending the KidWriting book. If I get the job, that will be one of the first ones I get! Margo, so your kids learn the names and sounds of the letters by the short segement of looking at a child's name every day? Thanks everyone!
     
  24. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    Aug 13, 2005

    iujeff,
    One more question! If you include all the kids' sheets in the same book, then wouldn't there be like 22 pages of A's, 22 pages of B's, etc etc etc. What am I not getting? :)

     
  25. Margo

    Margo Devotee

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    They almost always will learn the names of the letters, some more so than others. Maybe not necessarily the sound but that comes easier to them once we begin the direct instruction since they have already been exposed to them. Of course, they will not be taught every letter through the name activity because you don't often have names with z,x,q. Although one year I got lucky and had every single letter in the kids' names. ;)
     
  26. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    hojalata, I have the very same question as you do about the alphabet book. I don't know what she means either...
     
  27. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    Margo, If the kids do not learn all the letters and sounds from doing the Building Blocks name activity, how does Building Blocks suggest they learn then? Your students learn them completely because they require you to teach them again later. I know Building Blocks has some sort of "Teaching Daily Letters" book or something...but this isn't really a neccessary part of their program. So I guess I'm back to the question... if you don't go through letter-by-letter, (how) do the students really learn them? Do they? Maybe that's getting a little deep for late on a Saturday night, but I'm just curious. :)

     
  28. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    Aug 14, 2005

    Ok, there is the schedule I came up with to bring with me! I still need to figure a few things out though. I don't know how to fit everything in! I still want to do a predictable book (making one... like "My favorite color is red. (Dan) My favorite color is blue. (Sarah) This is a part of Building Blocks, and there's an activity you do with it every day. The problem is, I don't have any time to spare to add this in. And this schedule doesn't even include when they have specials! Any tips?

    8:45 - Students enter, attendance, puzzles/books, etc.
    9:00 - Morning Meeting (Welcome, Morning Message, Calendar, etc.)
    9:20 - Centers (Have To’s/Choices & Guided Reading Groups
    9:50 - Building Blocks – Names
    10:15 - Shared Reading (Predictable books/nursery rhymes, etc.)
    10:35 - Snack/Recess
    11:00 - DEAR (also assessment time/time to work with lower kids)
    11:15 - M/W: Math/Science/SS T/R/F Writer’s Workshop
    11:40 - Clean up/Pack up/Show and Tell
    11:59 - Dissmisal
    Is that too much stuff to do in one day?
     
  29. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    It might be. Maybe you should do DEAR time during arrival? It's hard to say until you have the group of children in your room. But it looks like you have given it a lot of thought. I would just go in saying this is a tentative schedule. And that you are flexible and willing to adjust it to fit the needs of your students.
     
  30. Margo

    Margo Devotee

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    The only part of Building Blocks that I have time to do is the Getting to Know You Activity. The letters that are not taught by using their names will be taught with the regular reading series. As I said, I only use Building Blocks as a supplement to their regular reading series. I don't expect the kids to learn ALL their letters this way. But it sure does help them become more familiar with them. And don't forget, you are always talking about letters informally - during your shared writing, calendar time, read alouds, etc. There are many ways to teach letters.
     
  31. kinderteach3

    kinderteach3 Rookie

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    Aug 14, 2005

    Hojalata-
    I am a newly hired Kinder teacher, so my advice is only what worked for me... As I've been reading I agree that the cheat sheet Idea is best, I had one, however, rather than puttin in exact times and saying M/W Math/Sci.. etc... I would just have like these are the things I would implement in my classroom: Centers, Building Block, Shared Reading/Dear, etc... only because you might not be sure about the schools schedule, you dont want to downplay something like Math (I know in my district we have the Everyday Math program so Math is EVERDAY), you know what I mean?
    But I def. think your day looks great, its basically what my days will look like come september!!! Yay!!! GOOD LUCK!! Let us know how you make out.
     
  32. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    Aug 14, 2005

    Thanks, Kinderteach. You're right, maybe I don't have to be quite so specific. Afterall, it's not like I GOT the job and am planning for the year! Are you nervous about your first day of school? What does the Everyday Math look like at the K level? We used it in my student teaching class in 2nd grade, but I can't image what it would look like in Kindergarten! :) What other things are you implementing in your classroom? Just curious! Thanks, Heather

     

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