The children captured and have been learning 112 words in the first two days. This week so far we have stressed oral reading, handwriting, spelling, writing paragraphs, three types of comprehension, oral fluency, vowel sounds, blending consonant sounds, and listening skills.
For handwriting, we are working to strengthen hand muscles by tracing and cutting so that children will be able to improve their handwriting. Research shows that how a child shapes their letters plays an important role in learning to read. For the theory behind the importance of handwriting in teaching reading, see my reading blog. The children are working hard. The improvement in handwriting clarity from Monday to Tuesday is amazing.
For reading, we have been working at the vowel center. We are working on vowel sounds and consonant blends. We worked on distinguishing letters b and d yesterday. At the vowel center, we are learning the 7 sounds for letter a. Instead of memorizing word lists (we never memorize), we teach students to break words down into letter sounds. We use vowel clustering. Vowel clustering is a teaching method that stresses the relationship between the written letters and the oral sounds used to form words. Vowel clustering also teaches, comprehension, spelling, handwriting, word meanings, and working with compound and multi-syllable words. To succeed in the classroom, students need to go beyond just recognizing that letters represent sounds. They need to learn how to work with letter sounds. We use a vowel center game called Match the Sound. The vowel center (placing words on the floor game board by their letter sound) makes it easy. Being able to visually see the different sounds helps struggling students learn to read. However, not every student finds it easy to identify vowel sounds. Vowel clustering teaches students to break words down into individual sounds and then put those sounds back together to read the word.
For more information on the teaching methods that we are using, see my reading blog.