Quick Side Note: Our district follows an assessment program called Literacy First. I feel like I just committed a crime by typing their name. Apparently, it's quite a popular program and yet, no one talks about it! I'm serious...Google it if you don't believe me. You won't find much of anything. Even their company website, doesn't tell you much. The bottom line is that there are four categories of skills that you test: Phonemic/Phonological Awareness, Phonics, Comprehension, and Fluency. There is a continuum of skills that are assessed from Pre-K on. Basically, you focus on the skill that they are on until they master it before moving on. Some teachers decided that they would only focus on the skills during guided reading rather than putting real books in the kiddos' hands.
Word Work: (20 minutes) Again, the "amazing words," "sight words," "vocabulary words," "spelling words," and "word work" from Reading Street were just too much. I was running out of room on the board to list all of these words. The words were out of control. Another aspect of Literacy First is the Words Their Way program. Teachers receive a Words Their Way Manual and can use it help move their kiddos along the continuum. I was fortunate enough to use the Words Their Way Workbooks in Pennsylvania. And let me tell you, they are amazing! For the first time kiddos can learn how to spell. Not just memorize a word and forget it the minute the test is over. There are 4 levels that move through the different levels of spellers according to Words Their Way. We do not have the whole kit, just a few copies of the workbooks that were confiscated when another building was shut down. So I sat down and aligned the various sorts in the workbooks with the Literacy First skills. I plan on having 4 guided spelling groups each week. They will stay on that skill until they are ready to move onto the next skill with Literacy First. I feel that this tackles a multitude of problems at once. Why should spelling and reading be two separate ideas? They need to be joined at the hip, in my opinion.
Mondays - cut and sort
Tuesdays - sort and glue
Wednesdays - Making Words - use letter tiles to spell various small words and then form one big word with those same tiles.
Thursdays - Pattern Hunt - look for words in books that follow the pattern that you are working on.
Friday - Spelling Test - I am going to pull one group back at a time and give them their spelling test to eliminate some of the confusion of having four different spelling tests. The other kiddos will start working on centers and come to my table when their group is called.