I use reading clubs in my class, which consist of intimate guided reading groups. Each day, my students practice good reading strategies and behaviors, including phonics, phonemic awareness, high frequency word and sight word recognition, comprehension, fluency, listening, identification of fiction and nonfiction, story retelling, oral and silent reading practice, and the singing of poems and songs. Through this immersion in reading, I can instill a joy of reading in each child.
My students practice writing every day, which makes them confident in their written voice. I teach both technical and creative writing.
I take a balanced and developmentally appropriate approach to writing that incorporates phonics, sight word recognition, phonemic awareness games and activities, and spelling practices. I provide many opportunities for my students to use writing to anchor what they read in books to their real life experiences.
With respect to technical writing, each week I give the students two new “high-frequency words” to learn and practice. Each day they practice writing and identifying these words, and each week they take a spelling test using the words they have learned. We repeat and circulate these “high-frequency” words throughout the year.
The students also practice their handwriting: letter formation and holding a pencil correctly. Students trace and sign their names, practice in their handwriting books, copy sentences from the board, and write numbers and words during instruction in every subject. I create opportunities to strengthen fine motor skills through games and activities.
When our students write creatively, I focus on the transfer of ideas onto paper. I don’t require, or even encourage, correct spelling or grammar during creative writing activities. Rather, my goal is for students to express themselves and develop their written voice.