My partner and I use poetry to teach much of our actual reading (decoding) lessons, much in the same way as the link that Debra just posted:
We find using poetry and song, as material for our reading lessons, provides us with a short piece of text that the kids can really focus in on. As the article mentions, the rhyme and rhythm helps the kids read and they are motivated to practice... a lot! Doesn't the best learning always seem to happen when the lesson is fun and they don't realize they're working?!!!
We don't tend to do as many poems in one week as suggested in the article though. Last year, at a conference, we heard Regie Routman speak about the value of returning to the same piece of text and working with it over a couple of days, rather than adding a new piece every day. We were so impressed with what she had to say that now we try to use a poem in several different lessons before moving on to a new one. And of course, re-reading old favourites is extremely important too, as the article pointed out.
There are a few things we do differently than the article. We don't read the poem TO the children at the beginning of the lesson. We want them to be using and practicing their beginning reading skills independently (in a supported way) when we give them a new poem or song. We look at this as an opportunity for them to "get into the print" and start looking for what we call our "reading tools." We teach them these tools and then they use them to decode. At the beginning of the year, of course, they may only be able to decode just a few unknown words in a poem, and recognize just a few sight words, but their skills grow quickly with this program. It's actually amazing to see their growth in reading as they start to apply the tools. Rather than memorizing, they learn the skills they need to actually read.
Circulating among the children, as they search for tools in a new poem, also helps us monitor their progress. It's easy to spot the kids that understand (the ones who are finding and marking their tools at a rapid rate!) and those who do not. We can then give some direct support to children who are struggling by asking a question or directing them more on an individual basis (Oh! Look! In the third line - I think I see a colour tool you've missed...)
Many people are surprised when we tell them that we prefer to teach reading in a whole group situation, such as in our poetry lessons, rather than in small group situations, but we find that these poetry lessons really help us to meet the needs of a whole range of readers. The less able children receive our support on a one-to-one basis, as we
move around the room, and the more able children are off and running with parts of the poem or the entire poem, because they've used their tools to decode. In a large group situation, behaviour problems are less, and as teachers, we are not distracted by checking on what that "rowdy group" in the corner is up to! We feel less stressed and can teach a better lesson.
Another thing we do differently is to always send a copy of the poem home after each lesson. The kids keep one copy in a three prong duotang cover at school, and take the second copy home, to keep in another duotang. We send this second duotang home in September, along with a note asking parents to practice with their child on a regular basis. We feel this really adds to the success of our program because most kids practice a great deal at home. As the article stressed, poetry is fun to read and songs are fun to sing! As every primary teacher knows, practice is an essential part to learning to read fluently and with expression. The more they practice, the better readers they become. We also teach our parents how to help their children to sound out words, using the reading tools, at a special evening meeting in September. In this way they are supporting what we do in the classroom, with their child at home.
Although our choice of poem often reflects the current theme in our class, early in the year we most often choose poems that will support the kids in learning to use "the reading tools." We begin by teaching the tools that appear in the colour words and we call them "our colour tools." Most of the poems that we use in September and early October therefore, will largely be made up of colour words. Here's an example:
Purple cat too!
We introduce these particular tools on the second day of school by having the kids start to learn to recognize the color words as sight
words, and by showing them that most of the colors have tools in them
that can help us read. We teach them that every time they find a color
tool they should mark it in a particular way, and say the sound it
makes. We start by simply marking the actual color words themselves
before we move on to transferring this activity to other words.
Here are some of the color tools:
orange - The kids learn the sound that the letters "or" make when they appear together. They circle the letter chunk "or" in an orange crayon.
green - They learn that "ee" makes a long e sound and we call this sound "noisy ee's" The mark this by putting "noise lines" out from this chunk, using a green crayon.
gray -The long a sound. The kids use a gray crayon or a pencil to circle or underline this chunk.
yellow - The tool in this color is the "ow" chunk which makes the long o sound. The kids learn to use a yellow crayon to draw a line over the “ow" in words where these two letters make the long o sound.
brown - The tool in this color is also "ow" but it is marked differently
because it makes a different sound than the sound it makes in
"yellow." The kids learn to mark it by drawing a little brown bandaid
over the "ow" because it makes the sound "Ow!", just as you would in the
word, "Ouch!" The beauty of these two tools, yellow and brown, is
that they introduce the kids to the fact that good readers are
flexible. When they read they must "try on" different sounds. The
tools help you get started but then you have to sound out the word and
find out what it says. If they come across this "ow" chunk in a word,
they have to try on the two sounds to see which way sounds like a real
word AND a word that makes sense in the context of the sentence.
The truly wonderful thing about these tools is that a child never
has to struggle trying to sound out a "chunk" as a series of separate
letters. For instance when they see the letters "ur" they never go
through the frustrating and pointless exercise of trying to say a short
"u" sound and an "r" sound. They know instantly to read "ur" as the
sound in the color tool, "purple."
You may be able to relate to this better if you think about the
letters "ING." This is a "tool" that almost everyone teaches when they
teach beginning reading. No one wants a child to sound out those three
letters independent of each other. We all know that a good reader sees
those three letters as a package. That's what all our reading tools do
for the kids... they see packages or chunks in words and read them
accordingly. It makes learning to read a lot less painful!
When we teach a poetry lesson, we always have a copy of the poem on
chart paper, up on the blackboard. We don't put it up until we actually
start the lesson to avoid having parents read the poem aloud to their
child when they bring them in at the start of the day. When we put the
chart up on the blackboard we give each child a copy of the poem and
have them put it in their duotang - no easy feat in the first week of
We might start the lesson by having them look for a particular color
word and asking them to circle the entire word with that color. (Find
the word "red" and circle the whole word with a red crayon"). Then we
would ask them to mark the tool in the word, "red." As time goes on, we
would give less support and ask the kids to simply find ALL the color
words in a particular poem and mark ALL the tools. After each
instruction, we give the children time to work independently or with
their desk partner (they sit in pairs, in rows) and then re-focus them
back to the poem on the board. We then have volunteers come up and do
the same thing that they have just done independently, on the chart
poem. In this way we can reinforce the tool sound and reinforce the
process of sounding out an unknown word. Often the children will take
the part of "teacher" at this point and demonstrate their thinking for
From there we would move on to other words in the poem. In the case
of the color cat poem, written above, we would then ask them to look at
the other words in the poem. In the cat poem, there are only three
other words: cat, cats, too. We would then teach a lesson on sounding
out "cat" or perhaps, if the time seemed right, we might introduce
another tool sound - "oo." "Oo" can say the sound you hear in the
word, "moon" and so we draw a little crescent moon over that chunk.
To finish the lesson, we would then give the kids some time to try
and read the poem through independently, either entirely on their own,
or with their desk partner. We would remind them to track with their
finger and ask them to read the poem more than once if they have time.
Finally, we'd have someone come to the front and track with a pointer on
the chart poem while the rest of us read along, either from the board or
from their own copy. End of lesson. Next day, we'd return to the poem,
re-read and perhaps do something different with it...
-cut it up and reassemble it,
-make a little book,
-change the colors around to make a different poem (just the color,
"blue needs to stay as is to make it rhyme... the rest can be
Poetry and song provide a great way to teach reading skills!!
Kerry in B.C. Canada
Our reading program is based on something that came
from a lady called Anna Ingham years ago. Her program is
called Blended Sight/Sound. We start by teaching our Grade Ones her "colour tools." We don't do all of her program - some of it was worksheet based and we don't find that very meaningful - but her "tools" are fabulous!
We start teaching the colour tools on the second day of school and
make reference to them all year long. As the year goes on we add other
Here are the Colour Tools:
green - noisy ee's When the kids find this tool then they mark it with
"noisy lines" coming from the two ee's. Later we find other ways to
spell this same sound (ea, open e as in me, he, she, etc. All are
marked with "noisy lines")
orange - or is circled or underlined as a chunk
purple - ur is circled or underlined as a chunk
silver - another version of the same sound as in purple. That gives
the kids two ways to write this sound. As it comes up, we introduce the third way (ir) as in girl. When they write, they know that if they need to write this sound there are three choices (ur, ir, er) and the "er" choice is almost always at the end of a word.
red - The kids mark the e by drawing in eyes and hair to make Ed. Ed
says the short e sound
gray - kids mark the ay by circling it and know that it makes the long
a sound. ( If you're Canadian, you may notice that I don't spell grey
the Canadian way. We explain to the parents, in September, the reason
for this.... we get far more mileage out of this word if the kids spell
"gray" so that we can focus in on the long a sound of "ay." As the
year goes on, we tell them that in Canada we actually spell it "ey.")
brown - has the "bandaid" sound of ow like "ouch." Kids draw a little
bandaid over an ow word that sounds like it does in brown.
yellow - here's the other sound of ow- he long o sound. They draw a
line over the ow in words that make this sound. Like in snow.
White - The kids learn that e does tricky and magic things. They mark
it by drawing a curved arrow over to the vowel from the e. This
transfers to all other magic e words which they mark in the same way.
For example: gate, hope, fine etc.
Gold and pink - These colours don't have very useful tools and we teach them more as sight words.
Gold does have the long o sound and we draw a line over it.
Pink is useful later in the year when they are able to transfer this
"nk word" to other related word families: ank, enk, unk etc.
Blue - again not very useful because the "ue" tool is not used in many
words. It is in Tuesday. We mark a moon shape over the "ue" to show it
makes that oooooo sound as in moo.
Oh! One important thing - We find it valuable to have a picture symbol
on the wall for each of the tools. The kids to refer to these as they read
and write. Anna Ingham did not do this in the original program.
We have found that it is most effective to have just a simple
shape and one word on the shape as a prompt. Initially we tried having
lists of words, that the children had found as they were reading, for each
of the tools. (green, seen, be, between, Halloween etc.)
Although making lists and flashcards is a great activity,
we didn't find it very effective on the wall. What we find they need
is just one word that reminds them of the sound of that tool.
This program of teaching reading, really transfers well to
writing as well. The kids, using this method of reading instruction,
become excellent spellers and fluent writers in comparison to kids
who don't know these tools. As the year progresses it becomes
very easy for our kids to write...they have the
tools they need to spell. Of course, I wouldn't like to give you the
impression that their spelling is always 100% correct - it isn't, but it's always far more standard than other Grade One work I see around our school
In fact, in January of this past year, the intermediate staff at our
school noticed the quality of our children's work and couldn't believe
it. They wanted to know what we were doing in our class. Some
came in to observe. Many of our average Grade Ones were writing
better and more than some of the Grade Four and Five students. So
in February we arranged for a workshop and many of the other
teachers in are school are now starting to experiment with these tools
in their own classrooms.
Once the kids know these tools we look for them everywhere and that's
the start of sounding out. Every time they find a tool, they mark it in
the way that I mentioned above. You do have to make a point of telling
them that FINDING the tool is not enough by itself. First you FIND the
tools and then you must USE them to read. We make this more of a
concrete concept by looking around the room for a hammer
and then ask them if just finding it is enough... no, we have to USE it
in order to accomplish something. As the year goes on, they no longer
need to mark the tool. Each child on their own will stop actually
marking the tools when they no longer need this support. We do
have them mark the tools all year long in poetry lessons. This gives
them an ongoing review of the the tools.
Another thing we emphasize to the kids is that good readers are flexible.
For instance , they should try to sound out a new word, the way they
think it should sound, according to the tools, in the word. If that doesn't
sound right, or make sense, they have try other ways of saying it, until
they get a word that DOES sound right - a word that will fit in the context
of the sentence and make sense. We emphasize this a lot. They have to
understand that reading is all about getting meaning from the text, not just
saying words out loud.
As the year goes on we teach other tools as well, such as "ar"
and the two sounds for "oo" etc. We introduce them whenever they
come up; during the course of our other lessons, or when we see a
need for them. We're teaching reading using the tool sounds all
day long whether it's a word that comes up during math or a theme
lesson on apples.
In this past year, we introduced the tool sounds for "oo" within
a week of school starting. In the process of scanning books to
find "noisy ee words", Ryan noticed what he called a "noisy o" word.
He was very excited! The word was"boot" but he thought that it was
"boat." He generalized that if "ee" said the long e sound, then surely "oo"
would say the long "o" sound. Although we shared in his joy at finding
a tool, we made sure that he didn't carry on trying to read with this
The very next day I introduced the two tools for the chunk, "oo."
We put up two different symbols on the wall, side by side, for this
chunk. One symbol is a crescent moon and the other is a pair of
glasses. We teach the kids to be flexible when they come across this
chunk in their reading. We teach them to try out the two possible sounds
and then mark the "oo" in one of two ways:
-If it sounds like the "oo" in moon, draw a moon over it.
-If it sounds like the "oo" in look, draw two dots (for eyes in the "oo."
In another year, this particular tool sound may not come up so quickly...
maybe a week or two later in a different way all together. If it doesn't come
up incidentally, then we would make sure to introduce it ourselves in a planned lesson at some point.
This is such a powerful way to teach kids to read! Of course, it's only ONE
portion of our whole reading program, but it's the core for us, in terms of
teaching decoding skills. It really works and every year we get better at
teaching this way. We find more "tools" that we can point out to the kids
and we get better at thinking of interesting ways to introduce these tools.
For instance, about April of this past year, we noticed that quite a few
kids were spelling words like "pizza" with a "u" at the end like this:
"pizzu." In order to help them with this in their writing, I introduced a
new tool, that we had never thought to focus on before. We presented it
to the kids in this way:
We have a mailbox in our classroom (described in Message #
71860 of the KK Archives) and one day a toy gorilla "came" in the mail!
He had a little note with him about the sound of the final "a" in gorilla.
The following note went home with each child at the end of the day:
Today, when we opened our class mailbox, we found a funny fellow!
His name was MaGilla Gorilla!
He suggested that we look for words ending in the letter “a.”
The “a” makes the sound of “u” (uh)!!
Tonight we have a challenge! We need some family help to collect words like
“gorilla” or “Canada” or “Debra.” Please have your child make a list words like this and bring it in tomorrow.
Kerry and Darlene
After this introduction, we put a picture of a gorilla on the wall
with the word "gorilla" written on it. The final "a"
of the word was in red to highlight it. From then on, we
noticed that their writing improved dramatically in their
independent work, with respect to this particular spelling pattern.
After that we always referred to this as the "Gorilla Tool" and
words like "pizza" and "Carla" became known as "gorilla words."
Silly, I know.... but that's why the kids remember and use these
tools. We could just have easily introduced it in a different way
and called it something else.... "The Pizza tool" or the "Banana
Tool!" My partner is especially creative when it comes to this
kind of business. She's a great teacher and I learn a lot from her
about making learning fun and meaningful.
Another thing I should make clear is that the kids don't need to
know all their individual alphabet letters and sounds before starting
to teach them the tool sounds. In fact, half of the kids we get each
September rarely know more than say, 10 consonant sounds. Often
they don't know all the letter names either. We don't worry about
that - we just start in on everything. We, of course, want them to
learn the individual letter sounds as soon as possible, so we focus
on doing a lot of alphabet games, songs etc. in September and
October, but that doesn't stop us from introducing the tools as well.
As I said, on the second day of school we start having them learn
to read the colour words and mark the tools.
We also find it very valuable to have a picture symbol for the
individual vowel letters as well as for the digraphs: ch, sh, wh, th.
Again, there's no particular "right" way to introduce these - we just
use our imagination and sometimes, in different years, we will choose
different symbols. When we introduce the digraphs we have four
objects "arrive in the mail." Last year we used a baby shoe, a whistle
a mitten with the fingers folded back and a piece of Kraft cheese.
Also in the mail were the four digraphs printed on paper.
These became our symbols on the walls to help the kids when they
needed these "tools" in their writing or reading.
sh - shoe wh - whistle ch -cheese th - thumb
I know of another teacher who uses a chocolate chip cookie as a
prompt for "ch." When the kids find a new "chocolate chip" word,
she records it on a flashcard shaped like a cookie.
A couple of years ago I found a book by Mary Tarasoff, called
"Reading Instruction that Makes Sense." Although she doesn't
talk about "tool sounds" she does have a list of them in her book
that I have found very useful in planning for instruction. I use
it as a checklist, making sure I am covering as many of the "tools"
as possible. She calls them "patterns."
One last important thing to mention is our jail! We don't want
kids to spell words like "said, they, friend, the, have" phonetically. We want
them to know that these are words that we just have to memorize and
that they break all the rules - so we put them in "jail" and call them
"jail words." My partner made a 3-D jail out of a cardboard box. She
sponge painted gray bricks etc. and put bars on the windows. Very
early in the year, as these words arise in reading or writing sessions, we put
them "in jail." For instance, if a child was trying to write in their journal
about their "friend" and we noticed it, we might just stop and get every-
one's attention. We might say, something like... "Oh, guess what!
Tanner has just come across an important jail word that we're all going
to need to learn. It's a word we'll probably use a lot. It's the word
friend and it has a very strange spelling pattern in it. We are just
going to have to memorize this word! Here's how you spell it. This
word is "friend"! Can you believe it? Let's put it in jail right away.
Whenever we need to spell this word, you can just look at the jail
and find out how to spell it."
This jail is our version of a word wall. For the three years that we
have now been teaching Grade One we have tried unsuccessfully to
build a word wall that we found was useful. We've now decided that
we will build a bigger "jail", and attach the words alphabetically so the
kids can find them easily. Our dissatisfaction with a typical word wall
is that most of the words on it can easily be sounded out. We don't
need words like "and, big, up, down, play, went, today" on the wall...
they can easily be spelled by sounding them out and that's what our
kids are good at because they have all these "tools"!!!
I hope you might be able to use some of this in your classroom
next year. Just adding a "tool" here and there will help your kids
and I'm pretty sure that you'll be thrilled with the results and will want
to experiment more.
Kerry in B.C. Canada
Anna Ingham may have had a specific order in which to
teach, but I'm not sure - we never have taken her course. I
believe it's still being taught by her daughter, but I'm not
sure about that either. We learned about this method of
teaching from a colleague, Mary, now retired, who did take
the course. I know that she didn't follow the Blended
sight/sound program exactly as it was given to her - just
took out the pieces that seemed valuable for her.
By the way.... someone on this ring (I won't say her
name because I haven't asked permission...) also teaches
this way and had the actual workshop training by Anna
Ingham herself. She told me that Anna Ingham was from
Saskatchewan, not Alberta, but her daughter was helping
with workshops and she lived in Alberta! I just thought I
would set the record straight! It's been so exciting to talk
to this colleague on this mailring... there aren't many Anna
Ingham style teachers in our area! She may also be able
to give us some ideas from her reading program too!
My partner, Darlene, who originally taught intermediate,
first had contact with the Mary that I mentioned above,
when her son was in Mary's Grade One class. At the
time, her son was extremely hard of hearing, but no
one had picked up on it. It was actually very near the
end of Grade One when it was detected (Something
was done and his hearing is now fine). The doctor
mentioned to Darlene that it would probably be a wise
decision for her to have her son repeat Grade One so
that he could learn to read. He was absolutely blown
away when Darlene told him that actually that wouldn't
be necessary because he was an excellent reader. The
doctor said that he would have thought it was impossible
that a child with such severe hearing loss would be able
to learn to read! He couldn't believe it! Darlene knew
that whatever Mary was doing to teach reading, it had
to be wonderful. Later, when Darlene ended up
teaching Grade One herself, she went to Mary, who
then spent time to mentor Darlene in this type of reading
program. I have been so lucky to have worked with
Darlene, who is a very competent, dynamic and creative
So, I as said, WE have no particular order for when we
teach each tool, but there are certain tools that seem best to
introduce early on and those that seem better left until later
in the year. Our goal is to try to be responsive to what the
kids seem to need to help them at that particular moment
and to try to pick up on things that the kids notice themselves,
in order to make the learning as meaningful as possible. We
try and take our direction from their lead. Often there are
tools within the names of the students in the class. This
makes for very meaningful learning.
For instance, in the year where we had a "Philip" in our
class, the children learned the "ph" tool in the first month of
school. This past year, without "a Philip", we didn't introduce
that tool until April when our class spent a month preparing
to put on a circus for our parents and some other classes in
the school. The "ph" tool came up when we did a poem
about an elephant parade. In another year we have introduced
it in January, when our school typically has a drive to collect
old phone books for recycling. In each of these years the
symbol on the wall was different. One year we had a xerox
blow-up of Philip, this year we had an elephant, and the
other year we had a phone.
Once we've introduced a tool, we then try to reinforce it
as often as possible, in as many different settings as possible,
so that eventually every child has it mastered. At that point
we no longer need to practice that particular tool. For
instance, noisy ee seems to be an easy one. Part way
through the year we don't need to point it out anymore -
the kids just know it. The brighter kids take off very quickly
in the year with this program and somehow just seem to
notice and use these tools intuitively. The lower kids need
lots of direct instruction, modeling and one-on-one help.
We find that for those children, it is incredibly important
to work with their parents, so that what the parents do at home,
is the same as what we do in the classroom. In this way, the
slower kids can also become good readers. We initially have
a meeting in September, just to discuss our reading program.
Then throughout the year we speak often with the parents of
the children who are "not taking off" and give them further
clarification and instruction about how to work with their
children at home. In this way the students get lots of
individualized instruction that we could never hope to be able
to provide in the classroom. We are very lucky in this regard;
the parents in our neighbourhood are very supportive.
Here then, are the tools, or "patterns," that are listed in the
Mary Tarasoff book I referred to. This is the Amazon link to her books:
Unfortunately, there is no image of "Reading Instruction that
Makes Sense." I'm not familiar with her other books, but
the titles sound intriguing.
Mary Tarasoff's patterns - she doesn't seem to have a particular order
(WE call these our "Reading Tools" - I will put a *** beside the
ones that we find useful to introduce early on)
-individual letters, consonants and vowels ******
y as a vowel - We have a prompt on the wall. It's a large "y" with
two speech bubbles coming from it. Inside one speech bubble
is an "e" and the other has an "i." We teach them that if you
hear a "noisy e" sound at the end of the word, it is almost
always spelled with a "y" as in "fairy, carry etc/ *******
-digraphs: dh, sh, th, wh *******
st sp sn sm sl sc sk sw lb cl fl gl pl br cr dr fr gr pr tr spl str
spr scr squ
We don't call these tools - we just teach the kids to sound
them out to form the blend. We have a chart of these on
the board and in spare moments we point to the various blends and
just keep practicing them. As the year goes on the kids circle
them or underline the blends, all on their own, because they
are so used to reading by looking for bits that go together.
(We teach this tool when we talk about "fall trees." We don't
teach ell, ill, ull as separate tools. Instead we seem able to
transfer the understanding over from the "all" tool. When
they come to a word like "hill" or "fell" we just refer back to the "all" tool and teach them that we have to change the vowel sound.)
-magic e - as in white
(We use the colour tool, white to introduce this word) ******
-silent e - as in "are" *****
or - taken care of in the colour tool, orange ******
ai, ea, oa, ie, ei
We teach that old fashioned rhyme, "When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking and says its own name." "Ea" is marked with noisy ee lines. The other chunks are just underlined or circled.
Darlene usually introduces this one - she has letters on
big "necklaces." Two kids come to the front and put them
on. We say the sound for each letter as an individual letter.
Then she moves the two kids together and everyone says
the sound they make when "they're waling." This is a very
concrete way to introduce these pairs of vowels.
ee - this is the green tool sound ******
aw au - We teach short "o" using an octopus as a prompt.
Later we put "aw" on a strawberry shape and attach it to
one leg. Then we put "au" and a picture of our school's
Kindergarten teacher on another leg. Her name is
ew - We've never done a very good job of teaching this
one yet... Any ideas? (Picture of this sneeze-SJ?
-ck (We cover this one in the colour tool, black) ******
-nk (Aha!!! This should be the tool we teach from the
colour tool, "pink!" Funny how I never noticed that before!!!)
ou - this comes up quite quickly and we put it on the same
bandaid picture that we used for brOWn
Then when they need to write this sound they know they
have two choices. *******
oi/oy - This year we had a Troy in our class. We introduced
the "oy" sound early on and had Troy's picture on the wall.
At Christmas, on a day when we made a poinsettia craft, we
introduced "oi." After finding words with these two tools, it
was easy for the kids to generalize the rule that "oy" is at the
end of a word and "oi" is used in the middle of a word. - usually!
-ing (Again, after teaching this one, it is easy, later in the year,
to transfer this to "ung, ong, eng, ang" ***
-soft c ( If there is a "c" that is followed by an "e" or an "i,"
the kids know that it will be soft as in "circus or face.")
-soft g (If a "g" is followed by an "e" or an "i," we teach the
kids that it will be soft as in "giant or cage"
-kn (We introduce this when we do /n/ in November, I embelish this story: When The Letter Keeper was giving out sounds the "n" was "nervous" so went up and down the alphabet to see if any of the letter would help him. "K" said he would stand next to him but would not say anything so that "n" could learn to do the speaking. So, that is what happens in words like, knock, knee, knuckles, etc. -SJ)
-kn / wr (We handle these two by calling them "ghost words" - Anna
Ingham's idea, I think. The kids mark the ghost letter (the
silent one) by drawing a little ghost over top the chunk.)
-ar - We use a star for our symbol and draw a star over
the chunk to mark it. One year we had a Carlee in our
class and so that was the prompt for remembering this
tool sound *******
er - introduced as the tool from "silver" ******
ur - introduced as the tool from "purple" *******
-ir - introduced with the prompt of either "girl" or "bird" .
We point out that this is the same tool sound as in purple and silver.
-ight - We use a light bulb symbol - The kids draw a light
bulb to mark this tool.
-ph - I mentioned this one above.
-gh - We've never introduced this one as a lesson. I guess we
might next year!
-le - Darlene introduced this on someone's birthday and connected
this tool to the word "candle." Just like we had "gorrilla words"...
we also had "candle words" like "table, topple, ripple etc." This
tool was introduced late in the year but next year we'll introduce
it sooner because it really helped with their spelling.
-tion - Our symbol on the wall is a Christmas decoraTION.
This year we introduced it at Christmas when we had this little poem:
I am making decorations
To hang up on our tree.
I am cutting,
I’m as busy as can be!
-tch - We don't do this one because it can be sounded out as is.
-ture - We haven't done this one before
-age - These two are taken care of with the soft g rule
so we don't introduce them at all
Now, that's it!!! That's all the tools that anyone, needs to
read. There aren't "harder" ones that are added later. This
is it. I like finite lists like this! Then I can see where I'm
going. Before I had these tools, I always felt overwhelmed
by teaching reading. Now I see that there are definite
things that I can point out to kids that will help them be
significantly better readers. It's taken the mystery out of
it for me and for the kids and for the parents.
Kerry in B.C. Canada
Last summer this same topic was discussed and so I could direct you to a
number of posts that I made then which might be of use to you. Many of them describe how my partner and I approach the teaching of reading, because we use poetry in the early part of Grade One to actually teach many reading skills. So imbedded in these posts, you will find poems and lesson ideas that can be used in beginning Grade One.
In addition, I'll give you a number of posts that explain how we make many poems into "little books" that we keep in a Reading Treasure Box early in the year. We also use them in the pocket chart. I just recently posted one such posts that makes use of a dinosaur poem.
Dinosaur Little Book based on a poem, "Colourful Dinosaurs"
Message # 117157
How my partner and I use poetry in order to teach reading/phonics skills:
Jelly Bean poem and lesson outline:
A little book based on a poem that I usually use first in the year
because it focuses on the names of the kids in the class:
A poem called ME! and a lesson to go with it:
And there are many more if this sort of a focus for poetry lesson interests
you. Let me know and I can look them up.
Here are some sites that will give you a starting place to look for poems:
Have fun with your poetry lessons. I find them extremely valuable and the kids
love them. Don't forget to include songs as poetry lessons too. They love to
be able to read and sing!
Kerry in BC Canada