What Do You Do All Day Anyway?: Phonics

So far in this series, I’ve shared our journey from our first Heggerty lesson through to our 3rd try with getting it right, after doing some reflection and thinking about videos of our lessons.

Kids have been asking about what part of our day we will record next, and that has yet to be determined (there are so many options!), but in the meantime I thought I’d share another part of our day that has been going pretty well.  It’s kind of a big deal in first grade to understand how phonemic awareness and phonics work together to help them understand words and apply that knowledge to reading and writing.

We started a new program this year and I’m excited for how it’s going so far, as well with how it has affected kiddos’ thinking already.  Let me share a little about what we do with phonics every day in Rm. 111.  Oh, and since you may be wondering (because I know for a long time I was unsure, too) about the difference between phonemic awareness and phonics, here is a chart from Heggerty’s website to explain how they are different but related:

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First of all, I feel like I should introduce you to a very good friend of all of us in Rm. 111–Rasheed the Lion!

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Isn’t he fabulous?  He has a SUPER name with lots of interesting features, like a capital letter, a digraph, a long e sound (made with double letters!) and a consonant at the end.  It has 2 syllables, 7 letters, and is a pattern of tall letter, 2 small letters, tall letter, 2 small letters and another tall letter.  We’ve been learning LOTS of things just like that about our own names, too, and have put them all on our word wall.

One important thing we did at the beginning of our study was learn how to correctly write our names AND how to spell and write the names of our friends!  They are important words in our lives and we need to know how to use them quickly and accurately. In our Rug Clubs (which are small groups we work in while we study phonics), we practiced with white boards and markers (which every first grader LOVES) and a “marked-up” version of our name that showed us exactly how to form each letter.

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Each student got their own name written in this form so they could practice how to write it quickly and correctly.  At this point, many first graders were still working on using lower case letters in their names.

See Rasheed’s pencil?  It’s because he knows how to use Professor Words when he studies names, and we do, too!  We looked at our own names and were super-smart professors as we shared our thinking with the rest of the class.  We pointed out vowels (short and long), as well as blends and digraphs, as well as number of syllables and anything else that was interesting.

After we had studied everyone’s names (including names of our friends in Rm. 112), we started to study other words in the same way.  We call these words SNAP words, because we should be able to say them in a “snap.”  Most of them are words that we learned in kindergarten, and we are reviewing them before we begin to learn new first grade words.

Most recently, we’ve been working on sorting words by a variety of features.  Students have worked with their carpet partners to identify vowels (short or long, how many, which ones, etc.), number of letters, number of syllables, etc., and then shared their sorts with the class.

Here’s a fun phonics game for you to play:  can you name the way these words are sorted?  Leave us a comment to tell us what you notice about how we chose to sort each group!  We’d love to hear how smart you are about phonics, too!

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How were these words sorted?  What do you notice?

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Here’s another one.  Look carefully–it’s different than the last one!

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This one looks easier than it is!  How did Rm. 111 friends sort these SNAP words?  Tell us in the comments!

One last thing…check out our word wall as of last week.  We were AMAZED that we added 37 SNAP words to the wall!  Can’t wait to watch it fill up with more words that we can read in a “snap!”  Stay tuned!

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