As we start this year together, I want to take a moment to convey to you some of my plans for helping your children grow in their abilities to spell conventionally. I have been assessing your children’s spelling during these first weeks of school. My first goal is to make sure that every child is a fearless and inventive writer and that every child is willing to use the word “enormous” rather than sticking with “big” because that child cannot spell “enormous” conventionally. You will see that I do not expect perfect spelling in children’s first-draft writing.
The second thing I have noticed is that many children in this class haven’t yet learned to spell some of the most important high-frequency words—words like because, said, although—correctly. So, each week, I will directly and explicitly teach children a list of high-frequency words. Children will bring that list home on Thursdays, they will be quizzed on those words on Wednesdays, and more important, they will be expected to incorporate those spellings into their writing whenever they write. I’ll help them do this!
Meanwhile, there are a few children who will need extra help with spelling. We all know that there are great thinkers who struggle with spelling (Einstein was one of them). I’ll be meeting with a few children to let them know that they will need to put extra time and receive extra help in spelling, and that together, we can make huge progress. Meanwhile, these children need to be reminded that although their progress in spelling matters and merits attention, they need to also work toward other goals as well. Like all children, I’ll encourage these youngsters to write a lot and to write with voice and detail. I look forward to supporting and studying your children’s progress toward writing more correct and more effective pieces of writing.
This week, some kids came home on Thursday with their first list of six words and some kids did not. Those kids that did come home with a list will need to practice their six words at home this weekend. Those kids that did not have a list are still being tested for high frequency words (so far they have correctly spelled 125 of them without missing six or more). Don’t worry…there are still a more high frequency words that they are being tested on. If I find that they can spell all of the high frequency words that I have selected, those students will move their focus from high frequency words to vocabulary building.
While we have enjoyed the birthday treats the past two weeks, we do have a school policy of no treats to celebrate individual birthdays. You are welcome to send non-food related items (pencils, stickers, etc) as long as there are enough for all 28 kids. The policy is in place so that families don’t feel pressure to purchase treats for our classroom, if they are unable to afford it. Thanks for your understanding on this. Each child does receive a birthday pencil and our class singing “Happy Birthday” to them!
Another reminder is that ALL students should be reading for at least 20 minutes each afternoon or evening. This trimester’s focus is on building their reading stamina. Most of our older students have already mastered this. Being able to choose a book and become engaged in the story or topic for at least 20 minutes is essential for success in many other areas.
Finally, it was wonderful to sit down with 100% of kids and parents from our classroom the past two weeks. Fall Conferences are a great way for parents, teachers, and kids to know that we are a team trying to help each child reach their full potential. Taking about goals in reading, writing, and math help kids understand that expectations are high, but support is all around them.