Beginning in November, I starting pulling an unused easel from the corner of my room and lowered it to first-grade size. Know my friends love anything hunt/game-like, I decided to challenge this motivator into a Word Collector. Each week as we introduce a new phonics skill, I had a title to our board. Throughout our Daily 5 block and our school day, my 1st grade friends become “Word Collectors” searching for just-right words for our board.
As they find one while reading, they can grab an EXPO marker and include it. If they are at my teacher table when they find a word, they write it on a Post-It note and include it later. 😉 (Lesson learned on this one…as we use a basal and almost every word in our reader focuses on the specific skills, our first guided reading as Word Collectors was PAINFUL!)
Using a central location to collect examples of our weekly skill has definitely made the skills more ‘real world’. It’s no longer just a skill that helps us become a better reader, but something I see in my every day reading. Plus, my friends get SO excited to show me their word (even if it’s weeks after we focused on that specific skill)!
Our Word Collections are also a great formative assessment for me. I can quickly look at the board and see if there are any misconceptions. Below you see our ‘Contractions’ board. Obviously, my students thought any word with an apostrophe was a contraction (Woody’s, bear’s, Dara’s)- a great reminder to me that I needed to review what a contraction was and to briefly touch on possessive nouns!
Word collecting is such a simple idea, but a great way to help your friends see and find your weekly skills in real-world texts. As they practice the skills in a real way, they’re much more likely to remember them when we’ve ‘moved-on’ to another phonics skill!
Do you use a word collector in your classroom? What other ideas do you have for making weekly phonics skills ‘stick’? I’d love your input! 🙂
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