In the words block, children learn to read and spell high-frequency words and learn the patterns which allow them to decode and spell lots of words. The first ten minutes of this block are usually given to reviewing the word wall words. Word wall is a display of high frequency words above or below an alphabet. The words are written with thick black marker on colored construction paper and are located by first letter only. The teacher adds 5 words a week. Students practice new and old words daily by looking at them, saying them, clapping or snapping the letters, writing the words an paper, and self-correcting the words with the teacher. The remaining 20-25 minutes of words time is given to an activity which helps children learn spelling patterns. A variety of activities are included in this block each day the most popular of which is Making Words. Making Words is an active, hands-on, manipulative activity in which children learn how to look for patterns in words and how changing just one letter or where to put a letter changes the whole word. The children are given the six to eight letters that will form the final word. The teacher begins with two letter words, then builds to three, four, and five letter words (example: it, in, pin, pit, rip, run, runt, punt, trip, turn, print, turnip). They then sort the words according to a variety of patterns including beginning sounds, rhymes and endings and use words sorted to read and spell words with similar patterns. Word wall is practiced every day but the second activity varies. In addition to Making Words, this second activity could be Rounding up the Rhymes, Guess the Covered Word, Using Words you Know, Reading/Writing Rhymes or another activity through which children learn how to use patterns to decode and spell hundreds of words.
Making the Words Block Multilevel
All the activities in the Words Block are designed to be multilevel. Across each activity, there is something for children to learn regardless of whether they are struggling or accelerated.
Early in the year, it takes the whole ten minute to call
out, chant, write and check five words. As the year goes on, however
and writing and correct handwriting become more fluent and automatic, the
five words can usually be written in five minutes. This leaves five
minutes which we utilize to do an on-the-back activity which extends children's
knowledge of these words or helps them learn to spell other words.
Endings. This activity helps children learn to spell word-wall words which need an ending. Imagine that the five Word Wall words you called out for them to locate, cheer for and write were:
Have them turn their papers over and say something like:
"Today we are going to work on how to spell these Word Wall words when they need an ending. I will say some sentences like the ones many of you write and you listen for the Word Wall word that has had an ending added:
My friends and I love eating at McDonald's.
We were looking for some new shoes.
I was talking on the phone to my cousin.
My mom wants the new baby to be a girl
My friend spent the night and we played Nintendo 'til 11:00.
After each sentence, the children identify the word-wall word and the ending, decide how to spell the word and write the word with the ending on their papers.
This activity uses three endings --s, ed, ing and five different words. When we first do this activity, we use fewer endings and/or fewer words. For example, we might call out five words to write on the front but concentrate on adding endings to only one or two of these on the back. Imagine that eat and look are two of the five words, your sentences for the on-the-back activity could be:
He looks hungry.
We were looking for Tommy.
She looked in the closet.
He eats peanut butter sandwiches every day.
We were eating when the fire drill went off.
The children would have the words looks, looking, looked,
eats and eating written on the backs of their papers.
These endings do not require any spelling changes.
Later in the year we would include some words that needed to have the -e
dropped, a y changed to i, or a letter doubled. In second and
third grade, in addition to s, ed and ing, we say sentences containing
Word Wall words to which y, ly, er and est have been added.
Since we decide before writing each word how we will spell it, everyone
spells each word correctly. This additional information about how to spell
words with a variety of endings and spelling changes really moves the accelerated
learners along in their writing ability.