Letter of the Week

Discussion in 'Early Childhood Education Archives' started by mrs.oz, Jul 30, 2006.

  1. mrs.oz

    mrs.oz Companion

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    OK everyone. I am not sure how I feel about this but all weekend at the elementary conference I heard "don't teach letter of the week." What are your opinions on this idea? They say we should be exposing them to all letters and not to adjust our themes around just one letter.
     
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  3. Mrs_Barrett

    Mrs_Barrett Cohort

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    I teach a letter a week, because that is what I'm used to. Plus as long as you do meaningful activities to teach the letter each week. Then I feel as though it isn't streching it out too much. Also I teach sped preschool, and they really need that extra reinforcement of the letter everyday.
     
  4. dolphinswim

    dolphinswim Companion

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    I have heard not to do the LOTW as well, my school uses frog street press so I guess I will be doing the LOTW...but I don't think you have to do them in order? I have seen one teacher do the letters that related to her themes...and she did not go in abc order.
     
  5. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    I teach a letter each week, but as we learn about one letter, I expose them to the other letters as well. There is no harm in focusing on one letter at a time.
     
  6. dragonfly

    dragonfly Rookie

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    I do NOT teach "letter of the week". I teach whole language (preschool). What is really meaningful to children? Their name! That's where we begin to teach letters, from words that children can relate to and hence learn, not memorize. I created a "word bank" in the writing area from words that children write often i.e. Mom, Dad, Love etc. It's been my experience that when children begin noticing letters in the environment, that's my cue to offer functional writing in/recognition in the classroom.
     
  7. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

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    The first half of this year, I did letter of the week, and my pre-k/K students were able to read with the letters A-P. I think it can work...It's not that they aren't exposed to other letters, it's only focus, and you can't focus on all 26 letters at once!
     
  8. mrs.oz

    mrs.oz Companion

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    I am in a state that requires PALs testing and the children are responsible for knowing letters and sounds. I have had so much success teaching letter of the week that I am afraid to change but they say we should be exposing them to so much more because the children are not able to apply the letters and sounds when they learn that way.
     
  9. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

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    I don't get why they wouldn't be able to apply them? What's that supposed to mean? Like I said, it was my first year teaching, and I had my students reading sentances with the letters I taught them! I ended up leaving after a run-in with the administration over a child abuse issue, but I would have gone to z.
     
  10. mrs.oz

    mrs.oz Companion

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    They say there are new studies that are showing that it is not effective.
     
  11. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

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    Well, who am I to argue, right? I don't know...I learned through letter of the week, and so did all the kids in my elementary school, and we all read just fine...
     
  12. dragonfly

    dragonfly Rookie

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    When I teach reading strategies, it's just that ... strategies. Sight words combined with letter recognition and phonics. I guess that's why they call it "Whole Language". I even tell the children that learning to read is like solving a problem (a phylosophy I subscribe to!). Part of it is remembering/repetition and decoding. I have seen high success in reading readiness by the time children four to four and a half years old (I start them at three) and kudos from local kindergarten teachers. I do agree that some children learn best by structured, rote learning though.
     
  13. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Teaching letter of the week is not rote learning. It is an effective means of exposing children to letters by sight and sound. It can be done by daily activities involving recognition, writing, cooking, reading, discussing, etc, etc, etc. Teaching letter of the week is a whole language approach to learning.
    I have been doing this for 15 years and it works well. Some of my Preschoolers can read and write better than some adults.
     
  14. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    I think it depends on what kind of teacher you are. There is no right or wrong way. If you like doing letter of the week, do it. If you don't, then don't. Don't let a bunch of others tell you that it's not ok just because they don't like it or have heard that it's not ok. I don't believe everything I hear, do you? Do what YOU think is right. There are different philosophies in everything, we don't see everyone agreeing on one thing do we? Do what you want!:D
     
  15. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    Studies shmudies!;) :rolleyes: There are studies to everything now a days and a lot of studies that are done do not consider every individual child and individual teacher. It's done on a small scale market on a small population, then all of a sudden we have people saying "this is how children learn best", when in reality it's .01% of the child population in 'part' of the US. Blah!:p

    Each teacher has to do what is best for their class and assess how he/she can best convey and teach the students to their own abilities.

    Sorry to sound so abrasive. I'm just so sick of people using "studies" (not specifically you, just in general) to pin point an entire diverse world population.

    Grammy, I totally agree. :D Why try to fix something that isn't broken? Don't try and tell me LOTW doesn't benefit kids when I have had MUCH success with it for the last 7 years. It works for me, and that is ok. What works for one, may not work for the next. That's what makes the world unique!:angel:

    mrs.oz, do what you think is best for you and your class. Don't let someone else decipher what YOU think is best for yourself.
     
  16. Mrs.Sheila

    Mrs.Sheila Cohort

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    I have thought hsi year about jumping around and doing one from the top and one from the bottom.. we will eventually meet in the middle, but they may be able to recongnize them in a way that is absent from the "ABC song".
     
  17. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    This is what I do many times, as much as possible. It really helps with building word walls/vocabulary with your theme and helps them put the letters with objects easier. I also never went in order, but by the year's end we went through the entire alphabet. I should also add, like Grammy said as well, that even if you focus on a letter each week or even bi-weekly, it doesn't mean you have to restrict yourself to just that letter. You can still do activities focusing on the letter of the week, while incorporating other activities that use the entire alphabet at the same time.
     
  18. vannapk

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    ]
    Hi- Here is a link to my No More Letter of the Week page
    Our district "outlawed" LOTW about 6 years ago. There is sooooo much research out there to support moving away from LOTW. Please visit my site to read quotes from research and get ideas on how to move away from LOTW.

    I teach letters via integration and methods such as Journals, Morning Message, Word Wall, Environmental Print, Student Names, and Literacy Centers(modified for Pre-K students).

    Here is a GREAT article about "Letting Go of LOTW" (it's in PDF)

    I would be happy to answer any questions about moving away from LOTW, you can e-mail me at my website by clicking on the "e-mail" button on any page of my site or clicking on my name here above in this post and sending me a pm or an e-mail.
     
  19. vannapk

    vannapk Groupie

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    Oh! I almost forgot this...I HIGHLY recommend the following book for any preschool teacher- it is simply the BEST resource I have found out there for a Pre-K Literacy.
    The Comprehensive Literacy Resource for Preschool Teachers
    It's not available on Amazon, it's only available through ETA and it is kind of pricey, but it's worth every penny. Every Pre-K teacher in our district received a copy last year and it's wonderful!
     
  20. mrs.oz

    mrs.oz Companion

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    Thanks for all the info. I appreciate it and I plan to sit down and really think this out. We are beginning to use the OWL program. I am still not too impressed with it but maybe this will be my time to change and think about how I am doing things. I think the thing that I am worried about is that my PALs test scores will go down.
     
  21. vannapk

    vannapk Groupie

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    My test scores actually went way up when I started implementing all of the best practices I mentioned in my previous post. Almost all of my kids know their letters by December (some sooner - just depends on the child) and then we can move on to bigger and better things like letter sounds and all sorts of other things... That's the great thing about not using LOTW, you have so much time for other things, you can focus on the whole literacy picture and not just the letter recognition.
     
  22. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    This is my classroom in a nutshell.
     
  23. Pre-K Teacher 1

    Pre-K Teacher 1 Comrade

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    I teach 3s.

    I purchased the same book Vanna recommended and incorporated the practices. I'm amazed at how much the children can learn through the use of "meaningful" activities.

    This year I am going to put up a "word wall" of sorts near the writing center (which I am expanding) because before the end of the year last year I had many students asking me how to spell certain words and writing. The parents were amazed!

    I still had some that mixed up the usually "hard" letters!

    I have a couple of great handouts from college that had some fantastic strategies for teaching the kids letter recognition. My best advice, start with their names, then move on to the letters that look alike in lowercase and uppercase. Before you know it, you've covered the entire alphabet way before Christmas holiday break!

    Get the book...it's worth the money!
     
  24. mrs.oz

    mrs.oz Companion

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    Didn't we try whole language several years ago and then studies showed it did not work. I taught 1st grade for 6 years and I was strictly phonics driven. Second grade said the best readers came from my class. Now this is my fourth year teaching Pre-K and my children know their letters and sounds by the end of the year. Strictly whole language??????
     
  25. vannapk

    vannapk Groupie

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    Not sure who your post was directed to but here's my 2 cents about whole language for what it's worth :) Whole language went out the window in the early 90's, the new buzz word is "balanced literacy". Teaching letters via integration is not considered whole language. Whole language was more about "immersion", not integration; the philosophy of whole language was "expose them to it and they will learn"- like osmosis, however balanced literacy is "a mix of everything".

    Clearly children CAN learn their letters using LOTW, nobody is saying they can't learn this way, but research and experience show that there are better ways to get kids where they need to be much more effectively and quickly. It's not about how many letters and/or sounds they know by the end of the year, it's more about can they apply it and do they have the literacy foundation they need to move to the next level?

    Here is some of that dreaded research:
    "Children who are taught letters in isolation have difficulty placing that information into literacy activities" (Wood and McLeMore, 2001).

    "It is more meaningful to introduce letters as they become meaningful to the students"

    "Fluent letter recognition is one of the (if not THE) predictors of reading success"(Adams)

    "Teaching with LOTW slows readers down, yet it's too fast for others, it doesn't meet the needs of all learners and there is no room for differentiation. "

    "The students who struggle the most with learning the letters are the ones who are least helped by teaching letters in isolation. They need something to help them make connections - isolating letters doesn't do that."

    No More LOTW
     
  26. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    It's all about HOW the teacher uses their lessons to convey them to their students! Sure, a teacher who only does a letter a week who doesn't do anything but do a simple art project once during the week is not going to get through to the kids. HOWEVER, there are many creative teachers out there who can do wonders by using LOTW to teach their children. Not every way is for everyone! I do LOTW, however, I also integrate other letters in other lessons WITH LOTW. You only need to be creative with it. I don't listen to research, the explanation is above, I look at each child differently and assess their needs on an individual basis which is what everyone should do regardless. The research hasn't been done on MY students, therefore I am not aware of what will benefit them best until I assess how they learn and what is best for my own kids. Every child is different, therefore, not one thing will work for all.
     
  27. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    I enjoy everyone's input.I love change and getting ideas out in the open makes me think of how I can improve. I am glad to work for a center that allows me to choose my methods of teaching. I feel a huge responsibility. There is no one to collaborate with so, many times this forum is where I get new ideas.
    As for research and studies showing this or that, I rarely put any faith in them. Usually, the studies they make do not reflect a very large population and the statistics are inaccurate. I prefer instead to look back on my previous classes and decide what worked and what didn't. The only year I remember as not being very productive was the year I used whole language almost exclusively. I didn't do "letter of the week" and there were children who really struggled...so much so that one mom asked me if we studied the alphabet!!! I really think a combination of methods works best for my children and will continue to teach that way, adding some some additional things.I love the idea of a word wall and would just love more input from everyone. Tell me, please, how many words a week do you plan to put up on the word wall and what types of words do you plan on using? Do you leave them up the entire year? I am such a fanatic about my room decor. that I have a hard time leaving anything up over a couple of weeks!!!!
     
  28. mrs.oz

    mrs.oz Companion

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    I am also beginning a word wall this year. I plan to put names and color words for sure. Not sure what else will be included. I think putting pictures with the words will help the children identify the words. Any other input from others would be helpful.
     
  29. ABall

    ABall Fanatic

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    shapes and their names
    number words
     
  30. Michelle Raposo

    Michelle Raposo Rookie

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    Maybe when they say dont do letter of the week, its because these people would rather take the cirriculum from the childrens interests. By choosing a set letter each weeks its not doing this. Now Im confused how to teach children the alphabet???
     
  31. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    I don't think that has anything to do with it. I've already said enough on this. I think everyone needs to chose what is right for them and their class, period.
     
  32. moonbeamsinajar

    moonbeamsinajar Habitué

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    Vannspk, your approach sounds similar to the way things are done in my center. We are not allowed to do letter of the week, so I have never tried it and I cannot compare it to learning any other method. Learning about letters and letter sounds is embedded in almost everything we do. At the beginning of the year, most of the children do not know any letters. By the end of this year, of 17 children, 10 knew the entire alphabet and the sounds, 5 children knew 20 letters and sounds, and 2 knew 8 to 10. Over half the class were sounding out words in their journal writing, some alone, and some with scaffolding from me. These are kids from low income families, many of whom come with a host of other issues that are not found in families from low SES. I think the results are fantastic, and I am always amazed at how much these little ones are capable of learning!
    However, I guess I want to say that what works for one does not always work for someone else. Maybe my 2 kids who struggled would have done better with a LOTW approach. Who knows. I think as long as you are getting results, keep on doing what you are doing. If you aren't getting the results, then it is time to re assess.
     
  33. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    I agree Moonbeams. I have gotten wonderful results with the way I do things as well, and I do incorprate LOTW. My kids have all known their whole alphabet and sounds since they were all 2, so there is no way I'm going to change it if it's been working with my kids that well. Now, they are beginning readers at 4 years old. If it wasn't working, then I would have to evaluate what would work best for them at that time. So far though, it isn't broken, so I'm not fixing it.
     
  34. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    I have had great success with doing LOTW. At first I thought I might do it differently this year. I began working on my lesson plans and ended up including it in my plans. It encompasses so much more than just one letter...and the kids really like doing an abc booklet. That's the bottom line really...do what keeps them interested in learning.
     
  35. moonbeamsinajar

    moonbeamsinajar Habitué

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    Grammy teacher, can you tell me what exactly you do with LOTW, especially the alphabet book?
     
  36. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Sure, I'd be happy to tell you. Let me use the letter Aa as an example. I have a letter tree with the entire alphabet hanging on it. The letters are cut out of craft foam in all sorts of colors. We say this poem. "Lots of letters we do see. What letter will you pick from the tree?" I choose a child to and ask them if they can find the letter A. Then they say this..."I will choose the letter A. The letter A sounds like __. If they can't find the letter we are talking about, I ask who would like to help.
    Then we think of words that start with the letter A and I write them on my board...ex"apple" We sound the letters out together and spell the word out loud.
    I read an alphabet book to them. It does not have to be about letter A...just a book to identify letters.
    We look at their names on the word wall and see who has a letter a in their name.
    For our art/project time, I like to do some writing or tracing of the letter Aa. I also like to do something for fun, such as painting an apple, lacing an apple, eating apples, etc.
    Last year I didn't do an alphabet book because there were many kids who were part time and I didn't want to deal with "making up their pages." In the past, I have kept a folder and as they made each letter project, I kept it until the end of the alphabet, then we assembled the books with yarn. They were very cute and the kids just loved helping me with them. I'm not sure if I'm doing an alphabet booklet this year. I am waiting to see what my group looks like first.
    We focus on the letter for one week. We find A's all the time. On the playground, in the classroom, books, labels on foods, etc. We use the letter in words and we sound them letters out.
    That's all I can think of for now.
     
  37. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Oh I forgot to mention how they did each letter for a booklet. Well, you use your imagination. Color sheets are "boring." Decorate each page differently. For ex: letter B, write or type the word buttons on a page. Draw a large shirt and have the children color the shirt and glue on some buttons. Use Bb stampers all around the page.
    Letter Ff example...they paint a fish with hand/fingerprints
    Nn...write Nails and give them little nails to glue on the paper.
    Just be sure to put each page in a page protector(clear plastic) to keep things intact. YOu would need 12 for each child. YOu could make one without the page protectors, as I have, but you risk some of the stuff falling out.
     
  38. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    Grammy, that is very cute!!!
     
  39. moonbeamsinajar

    moonbeamsinajar Habitué

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    Thanks Grammy Teacher- you have lots of good ideas! I really like the alphabet tree!:)
     
  40. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

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    My alphabet book had a large letter that the children decorated with stickers (A-apple, B-bears...), a key word (A-an apple in an apron, B-bear with balloons...) and a page where the children pasted magazine pictures that they cut out themselves for each letter.
     
  41. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    You're welcome...I really enjoy the lette of the week. It's just plain fun!
     

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