Mondays with Miss M – The Journey of a Second Grade Volunteer, Part 2

Welcome back! Mondays with Miss M is a periodic series about my experiences working as a word-study volunteer in a local second-grade classroom. In my first post, I introduced you to our group and shared what we have been doing.

For that first month we were working with individual short vowels. Now we have a “primary vowel” and work through 20 words with the short and long vowel sound: CVC, CVVC, and CVCe. We also hunt for the “oddball,” the word that doesn’t follow the rule (like said).

Several in my group still get tripped up by correct vowel sounds (e’s get sounded out like i’s for example). Periodically they add letters to a word that aren’t there (plain for pain). My goal is to make it educational to reinforce the learning, but also to make it fun. Here’s what we’ve been doing …

Trying to eliminate the guessing game. The kids often blurt out an answer rather than look at/read the word. I have arranged the rules in a specific order on our big worksheet to force them to look at the letter combination. When I get a “dran” for “drain,” I’ll ask the question “does the [vowel] have a helper?” If there is a helper (either a second vowel or silent e) the letter will say its name. I want to get them in the habit of looking at the word for clues.

Playing B-I-N-G-O! This week I tried playing bingo. Rather than cut up their word sheet, the students used it as a bingo board. In order for everyone to get a marker (eraser), you had to pronounce the word correctly and explain the rule.  If you weren’t paying attention at the time, you didn’t get to put a marker on your board.

What I’ve learned …

Bingo was a great idea and it kept the kids engaged, but as a “game” it fell short. One of the unintended benefits was that the kids started having fun creating new words. When we started, one student would explain the reasoning for his/her sort by saying it rhymed with a word already there.  As we built each word bank, I would pull out the base word and then let the kids brainstorm new words. For example, we used -aid because main and drain were on their list. Then the kids would shout out other words that followed that pattern … pain, rain, plain, etc.

What I’m going to do next …

We’re going to do more with rhymes. Since they liked “discovering” words that rhyme/follow the rule, I want to do more with rhymes. Each week they have to write sentences, so I may challenge them to make it a poem.

I’m going to let them be the teacher. One student would teach the group 4 words (we’re up to 5 people).  They would let their team-mates pick words, but then they would have to ask about the pronunciation, rule, and write it on our big board.

Phone a friend. I really want to eliminate some of the guessing, so I want to come up with a method that requires them to help each other. At the moment, I’m working through a model where they get to ask one person to help them.

What do you think. Are there other ways that I can get the kids to move past just guessing at the words? We’ll be working on these combinations for a while, so I would love to have your suggestions!!

5 responses to “Mondays with Miss M – The Journey of a Second Grade Volunteer, Part 2

  1. It will be hard to change the behaviour. Basically, my belief is they guess because they badly want to give you an answer, and they’re rewarded with your attention. I would make every effort to reward the new behaviour ie checking the rules, taking a minute to examine the word closely, coming up with the correct word. I know we also want to encourage kids to have a try and we don’t want to change that atmosphere where it’s okay to have a go, but maybe it would be fun to introduce a ten second rule or something – one that puts the emphasis on decoding instead of blurting. Ban the blurt! (in fun).

    I would still continue the game aspect (love Phone a Friend! rhyming etc) and maybe they could get to do something when they demonstrate not guessing/blurting? For instance, my Kinders loved to play Pitch a Penny, where they got to throw a penny into the metal bin (clang!) each time they read the CVC, identified a medial vowel, whatever the game was about. With my kids, I also played that I was competing against them, and I would somehow never quite manage the pitch when it was my turn. (Chooks can’t throw for nuts.) So if a kid ever missed a word, I would chuckle with glee and tell them now it was my turn and I was so going to check the rules and not blurt, and generally act like a twit which they loved, but then always missed the penny, so nobody felt bad. But it also gave me a chance to model the desired behaviour in the game format.

    We sometimes added up the pennies and they got extra seconds tacked onto their playtime, or extra time quite reading or whatever was fun and fair.

    Kids will try hard when it’s a game they like and when there’s a pay off to do it. The key is to find one that keeps them and the school happy (like sometimes, strangely, other people objected to the noise my class made.) I have had so much success with k-6 in turning lessons into games – not mucking around, but games with a purpose and an element of fun or competition. As I am on about co-operation/collaboration, most times the competition element was against me, or an individual against his own score/time etc. I would also copy the game rules/instructions/bingo card etc out and send one home with each child so they can teach family to play, and practise at home. If that’s okay with the powers.

    I’m so glad you posted about this – I was wondering how it was going and for some reason your reply in the last post didn’t get to me.

    Such fun, Terry!
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