Letter of the week? Not for me.

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by Miss J. Pre-K, Sep 27, 2008.

  1. Miss J. Pre-K

    Miss J. Pre-K Comrade

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    Sep 27, 2008

    I have a word wall where we are putting up environmental print that the kids find--cut out "Wal-mart" under W, "McDonalds" under M, and all the children's name under their letter. We also put up a picture and the word of whatever we are studying on our word wall-right now pumpkins, spiders, webs, etc. I'm making a writing center and creating strips with words the children may attempt to spell--the children's names, happy birthday, get well soon, I love you. There is also paper and old cards for the children to practice their writing.

    Any ideas about introducing letters that is not "letter of the week"? I really hate how that approach breaks up the alphabet. I would like a more holistic approach. Anyone suggest some good resource books for me to read for ideas? I want it to be fun and natural--I teach mostly four-year-olds. Thanks!
     
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  3. TeacherGrl7

    TeacherGrl7 Devotee

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    Morning message! I loooooooove to do morning message. Our program does the letter of the week, but I supplement it by using a morning message in which we look for all of the letters, words we know, people's names, etc. It is a quick and easy way to focus on the alphabet and English langauge holistically, and I find that it works really well to balance out our letter of the week.

    Plus, the kids love it. Every morning I write something the same (Today is _____.) and something different (what we are doing that day). They look forward to finding out what we are doing, and they love to come up to the board and circle things. It can be 5 minutes if I am in a hurry, and 20 if we are really into it and I have the time. I can't say enough good things about it.
     
  4. Taliesin

    Taliesin Rookie

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    Yup, I agree... I love Morning Message. This is my first year doing it and I can't say enough good things about it!
     
  5. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I came across a website the other day : http://http://www.pre-kpages.com/lotw.html

    It has some articles and links to other websites that also have ideas. I think there was a book a few years back that was entitled "No More Letter of the Week".
     
  6. punchinello

    punchinello Comrade

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    I may be a dinosaur, but I love "letter of the week". Or sound of the week, whatever you want to call it....same thing. Of course you supplement with all the holistic lessons, but I don't understand what's so bad about focusing on ABC order, "A is for apple" kind of stuff.
     
  7. preschholtech

    preschholtech Rookie

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    I also love doing the letter of the week.
     
  8. tgi1515

    tgi1515 Comrade

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    I also teach 4 & 5 year olds. I do both.... I use themes but focus on one letter and it's sound (and how to form the letters - basic handwriting). This week we are doing an apple theme and talking about letter Aa. We are also focusing on 5 senses. I also do Morning Message and journals. We "sound" out words with inventive spelling. apple = apl. In a couple of weeks, we will start bookmaking. We have a book with environmental print in it. B = Braums, M=McDonald's and M&M's, S = Sonic, W=Wal Mart, etc. I don't have every single letter yet, but working on it.

    I've used V. Levin's www.pre-kpages.com also. I've printed off her theme "word wall" pages and put them in our writing center. My students haven't been very interested yet, but they are beginning to. I think the bookmaking will get their attention.

    I think a whole child, letter/sound focus and life experience theme catches every type of learner. Since not every child learns the same way, I try to hit as many ways to teach as I can within reason and still keep my sanity.... not sure about Mondays :dizzy:
     
  9. rosew

    rosew Companion

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    Sep 30, 2008

    would this work with young threes..for the past three weeks we have been working on A B and C and they still dont know them..how does morning message work?
     
  10. wann2119

    wann2119 Rookie

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    For three yr olds, you shouldn't expect them to know all of their letters after going over them for a week. It took a while for me to get used to that. Mostly, at that age it is just important to introduce them to letters. It will click when they are ready.

    That being said, I am going to try using the morning message. I know my kids will love it. They are 3, but some of them will be able to find letters. I just have to remember to write it in all caps because we do not focus on lower case right now...unless we are writing their names.
     
  11. Miss J. Pre-K

    Miss J. Pre-K Comrade

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    Thanks so much for this! I love her reasoning why this isn't the best approach--I'm going to show this to the other teacher. I'll also be checking out the book.
     
  12. Miss J. Pre-K

    Miss J. Pre-K Comrade

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    Duh! I totally forgot about morning message. We did that when I student taught in kindergarten. I'll also be adding some ready-made books for children to start journaling.

    One reason I don't like traditional "letter of the week" is because it isn't always words my kids know. Some of the wotw resource books I was given have such funny words to teach with the letter. I teach underpriviledged kids--some of them have never seen a xylophone, yo-yo, or fox ("it's a cat, no it's a dog" are the kind of things I got when I put up the picture). :unsure:

    I say you should never be afraid to try something new if you think it could work better.
     
  13. Miss J. Pre-K

    Miss J. Pre-K Comrade

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    I'm not sure you expect a response, but this is my :2cents::
    My kids will be tested on the letters out of order, using flash cards with just the letter, without pictures by the end of the year. Is testing appropriate? Maybe not, but they're expected to know their letters. If they are only taught in ABC order, how will they know the letters out of order?
     
  14. punchinello

    punchinello Comrade

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    I think I understand what you mean. And I think that level of recognition does develop either way.
    How will they learn ABC order if they are only taught letters out of order? Just being cute there, but seriously....their whole lives for the next few years are about ABC order, sequencing, predicting what comes next...

    We don't start teaching numbers 1-10 with 7.
     
  15. tgi1515

    tgi1515 Comrade

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    My students also have to recognize letters/sounds out of order. That's one of the reasons I teach mostly by theme but focus on a letter. So far we've covered (out of order) Bb - Bear theme, Cc - cookie/cow, Nn - Name, Nursery Rhymes and Numbers, Ff - Farm/Family, Dd - dog/ducks, Aa - apples (and acorns) this week, Hh (next week) - hats, Little Red Hen.

    Most of my students now know Bb, Cc, Nn, Ff, Dd and Aa. I talk about all the other letters (S was at the beginning of September, O will start October, etc.) depending on what we are doing. I try to mix it with math (R=rectangle) and Science - Eyes and Ears start with E even tho I don't talk about the "sound" with those words (I hit Ee with Easter and eggs.) We sound out words when we read our Morning Message, but still focus on this week's letter. Starting in Jan. we start looking at a few simple sight words (I, can, see, a, the). They can start writing sentences when they're ready after that. (usually just a few are ready....)

    We sing the ABC song, and listen to Dr. Jean "Who Let the Letters Out" and they are in order, so I try to hit it different ways. I also have the alphabet in about 20 different places around the room. Everywhere you look, there is some sort of ABC poster, flash card, or strip (I laminated a bunch of alphabet BB border of different types.)

    We use American Sign Language to show our letters and I usually have an action to go with them.... kind of a "Visual Phonics" type of thing. I've taught ASL alphabet for so long, it was too confusing for me to switch over to Visual Phonics, so they get something similar.

    I really love pre-kpage.com and I think that V. Levin is right on. I also feel like I can incorporate a letter focus for the week, that will make the district curriculum folks happy and I don't feel like I'm leaving out any letters.... I think it might depend on what you are required to teach and what you a comfortable with. Everyone has a unique teaching style...
     
  16. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Sep 30, 2008

    Just to muddy the water

    :spitwater:
    And just for the sake of argument-I don't teach the numbers in order either. :lol: We learn those by working on "how old are you?" and playing board games with dice and things like that. We pick them up in about a week, then after that we can work on handing someone 1 cookie, 2 cookies and so on.
     
  17. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Yes, that is sort of how we do it. Out of order for the focus/theme type letter. In order for alphabet books and so on, letters of names, letters in posters. so on.
     
  18. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    I love the letter/Sound of the week!
    I usually say/chant the children's names with the letter of the week AND they love it! For the whole week they go by that name. Just be careful you don't have a kid name Mitch, when the letter/sound is Bb or Chuck when the letter/sound is Ff, or Sam when the letter/sound is Dd, but it's not that bad as the previous 2. When you do the blending sounds; Brit when the sound is SH. Other than these minor names MY CLASS LOVE THEIR NAMES WITH THE LETTER/SOUND OF THE WEEK.
    An activity that worked GREAT with my Pre-Kindergarteners in CA; I asked the parents to have their children go through newspapers and circle the letter/sound of the week. I do this with the class I have now (4-4 1/2 year olds). I have them go through books in the class with their friends and find the letter/sound of the week. It's a GREAT activity because you see and hear them interact with each other, and they are enjoying it.
    Letter of the week is definitely the way to go!
    "We live to teach another day SO teach like it's your last day!"
    Rebel1
     
  19. 4myclass

    4myclass Cohort

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    I also love letter/sound of the week. I have themes that I teach based on the season, holiday, whatever, but I incorporate a letter that goes with that theme. And we don't just learn a letter and never return. We review daily.
     
  20. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Teaching letters and sounds is more than teaching the ABC's. Many of you know that I am a follower of Piaget. Children must be ready to learn the meaning of abstracts before letters mean anything to them. Before that, they are memorizing, which is okay to a certain extent. But, there are many pre-ABC concepts that PS teachers can work on.
     
  21. TeacherSandra

    TeacherSandra Enthusiast

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    Exactly how does a Morning Message work??:unsure:
     
  22. futureteach21

    futureteach21 Habitué

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    I have heard in my district about teaching the letters according to which family they belong to. Like L I T all have straight lines, and a c o e, are all kind of circular. I have a list of all the complete families but I can't remember them all now. Is this a good approach?
     
  23. melnm

    melnm Companion

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    Jun 14, 2009

    Here is a link from Mrs. Levin's Pre-K Pages about the morning message. I don't teach preschool, but hope to when I return to teaching soon. When I taught kindergarten several years ago, I did morning message with my kids and we all enjoyed it.
     
  24. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    futureteach21

    I am not the authority, but I only do that in the beginning for sorting purposes. I give the children the flash cards w/added velcro on back and ask them to group the lines with lines and so on.

    In the presentation I saw on this plan the letters were divided as you say, but they didn't bring the upper and lowercase together. I find that since we are working on our letters in a group (so that we can use them to see our friends name and occasionally label a drawn item) it was hard for the children to see 26+26 plus all the sounds. Now we use Zoo phonics and the motions, the letters are introduced all at once and highlighted alone w/lowercase.

    I am sure that the idea is great for some children and their programs. Doing what you district likes is important.
     
  25. TeacherSandra

    TeacherSandra Enthusiast

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    oooooh; thank you MELNM, I love it! :love:
     
  26. vannapk

    vannapk Groupie

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    We definitely see eye-to-eye on this one Miss J :D Your description of what you are doing sounds exactly like my classroom, especially your word wall and writing center :)

    I highly recommend Already Ready by Katie Wood Ray and Matt Glover and Engaging Young Writers by Matt Glover for writing. If you want something that covers all areas of literacy The Comprehensive Literacy Resource for Preschool Teachers by Trehearne and published by ETA is also a great one that has it all. If you have any ELL students I also highly recommend No Limits to Literacy for Preschool English Learners, it's fantastic. There's lots of current information and research about literacy in the book that applies to all young children, not just ELL's.

    We do not use LOTW in our district, it was phased out more than 10 years ago. I think some of the most powerful teaching practices you can use to introduce and teach letters are the following:

    Morning Message

    Reading and Writing Workshop

    Word/Name Wall

    Teaching with Names

    Environmental Print
     
  27. vannapk

    vannapk Groupie

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    Yes, there is new research that advocates teaching the letters that are easiest for young children to visually discriminate and write first. I think HWWT also uses a similar approach. Like a pp said, it's always best to do what your district wants you to, especially if you're new ;)
     
  28. MJH

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  29. punchinello

    punchinello Comrade

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    I use No More Letter of the Week. But I don't see how it's all that much different than LOTW. It does focus on the letter sound and I like the way the kids become experts. The Sound Wall is great because they really remember who had /r/ or /t/...they own the sounds. But I don't like most of the prompts for each sound. Some of the pictures are confusing so I made my own, and my own gestures. But you still "do" a letter a week. Or every few days.
    Maybe I'm doing it wrong. :)
     
  30. sarzacsmom

    sarzacsmom Groupie

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    i do letter of the week in ABC order, but we review alphabt flashcards out of order. I teach the 3searly 4s. by the end of this year, most of my kids can recognize almost all the uppercase letters, many of the lower case letters, the sounds the letters make, can recognize their own names and their friends names, they can write their own names-most of hem independently, can orally spell their names and can match uppercase to upper case and they can write the letters by copying and some of the m can write them independently
     
  31. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    I just like the way that using the letter from the topics and focusing on writers workshop and morning message and children's names makes the work a bit more organic. The children are the starting place this way. But as I said ---I enjoy my emergent room. It isn't for everyone.
     
  32. Rosie

    Rosie Rookie

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    I LOVE these ideas! I'm new to teaching preschool and I teach at a daycare with a set curriculum, so anything I can do that is new and interesting is good.

    Personally I like the letter of the week. I teach early 3's and I change the letter every two weeks. I don't drill the letter, but I find ways to draw their attention to it. I do it out of order to go along with our theme (for example our theme is Going Global and we are doing the letter 'G'). When I introduce it I ask if anyone knows any words that start with that sound, then I write these up and put them on the board next to the letter. Later in the week I ask them to draw pictures of things that start with that letter. If they don't know words for a particular letter that's ok, I help them and we all make the sounds together. Then throughout the two weeks if I hear a child uses the letter of the week (like this week, when I child says "good!" I can say "guh, good, like our letter of the week!"). I'm not sitting them down and drilling them on letters, I'm encouraging association between sounds and words they already know and use.

    Then to compare and help, we sing the ABC's almost everyday, the alphabet is up on the wall in several places, I have "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" on continual loan from the library (and other alphabet books), we play alphabet recognition games, and we have wooden alphabet puzzles.

    Like I said, I'm new to teaching preschool so seeing the responses to this is really interesting to me, but for now I'm working the Letter of the Week.
     
  33. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    I do that portion of the letter of the week as well. The /g/ g-OO-d - portion.

    but like you said I have other topics for the "theme" and we hang the letter off the theme not the the other way around so the letter of the week is star. We never do the art projects I have seen for letter of the week like covering an o with cheerios.

    We do have a chat about the letter of the week like you with pictures of the items the children name. I have mixed age so the 3's choose colors for the items and until mid year or so the older children tell me the items to draw. The 3's like to see the funny stick figures---the olders like to name the items. Then along spring time the change happens and the 3's start naming items. It is magical. the pixs all stay todgether in our classroom binder after their week on the board.

    But we really don't do that much w/the letter individually. That is it. One part of one day. The rest is the theme.

    that alphabet as a whole stuff is all over the room, games, posters,and they "journal" and write letters to each other so there is a lot of sound and letter talk.
     
  34. tiffharmon2001

    tiffharmon2001 Comrade

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    Me too! I think it's all about how you present it. When we do A-our theme is apples and all our activities are focused on apples, etc just as you would if you weren't doing a letter of the week. Of course, we talk about the other letters during the week as well, but our focus is on A.

    Don't see what's wrong with that.
     
  35. 4myclass

    4myclass Cohort

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    I agree, nothing wrong with it.
    What themes do you do for each letter and in what order? I was just wanting to compare themes and maybe get some new ideas.
     
  36. tiffharmon2001

    tiffharmon2001 Comrade

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    I've been working on that this summer, actually. At my old school, we had a different theme for each day based on the letter-A is for Apples (monday), ants (tuesday), acorns (wednesday), etc. I think it did have some good points, but I was feeling like I was going "an inch deep and a mile wide" and not really teaching about the themes, just about the letters.
    So, the last couple of years, I have worked on scaling down the number of themes for each letter to two or three.
    I've decided that next year, I'm going to just pick one thing that begins with each letter and really focus on it. We will talk a lot about the letter still, but focus more on the theme than in the past. Here are the things I'm pretty sure about for next year so far.
    A=apples B=bears C=clouds (weather) D=dinosaurs E=eyes and ears (seeing and hearing) F=furry animals (mammals) G=gingerbread man/woman/baby H=homes/houses (animals and people) I=ice J=jobs (community helpers) K=??? L=lions,etc M=mouths (taste) N=noses (smelling) O=ocean P=Patterns Q=??? R=rainbows (colors) S=spiders T=teeth U=universe V=volcanoes W=??? X=x marks the spot (pirates, treasure, etc) Y=??? Z=zoo
     
  37. 4myclass

    4myclass Cohort

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    K=kite (in March), Q=quilt (in January), W=weather (Spring), Y=year (as in New Year) I do this one when we come back from Christmas break. We do a lot of counting down from 10.
     
  38. tiffharmon2001

    tiffharmon2001 Comrade

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    Good ideas! Thanks!
     
  39. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    Rosie,
    Just remember IF you have a Mitch, then DO NOT do it for Bb;), OR Sam for Dd :D, and Chuck for Ff.:whistle:
    Just thought I'd share this.

    Rebel1
     
  40. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Jun 22, 2009

    do you do the letters out of order? Just wondering.

    This is sort of how I do one portion of the letters as well. A, B and C are in order to kick off the year. then

    N because our animal is an owl and it is october-and nocturnal
    v is a vampire bat-and bats in general
    s is the sammy snakes cousin spinny spider
    then x for fox in nov w/ thanksgiving
    f- fish
    d-deer same reason. we are talking about forests and thanksgiving and so on.

    so they are out of order but the animal and the letter fits into our themes. and our themes are a mile deep and not very wide, for many of the reasons our PP stated.
     
  41. 4myclass

    4myclass Cohort

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    Jun 23, 2009

    I go out of order. I start with M=All about Me, about the first week of September, then around the end of September, I do A=Apple (Johnny Appleseed day is Sept. 26), so on and so forth.
     

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