It All Comes Together!
Of all of the grades you could teach, the elementary years must be the most exciting. The growth and change is so constant and fast, that when you pause and look back, say around the 90th day of school. . . you realize that students have made tremendous gains and climbed huge mountains! The other morning I was playing a phonics game with some children. We were practicing cvc (consonant, vowel, consonant words like tap) The child I started playing with was doing great, only reversing b for d and occasionally making the short a sound for short u. We were practicing!! After a few minutes of play, another student came up and asked if they could play next. I said, "Sure," thinking to myself. . . this might be too difficult. . . well you know what happened right? This kid started sounding out those cvc words like a pro!!!
This is a picture from last year. Children playing sight word go fish.
Okay so let's talk about our classroom design, and what made this AMAZING moment possible! The classroom is entirely differentiated. That means, there is work out for the beginning readers amongst us and the most advanced. Every learner can find something to work on that is in their comfort level. However, even though there was 'easier' work out, this child, probably feeling the pressure of their peers, voluntarily pushed their comfort zone and took on a challenge! And how that challenge paid off! If you could only have witnessed the smile as the child realized that they were reading!
You might ask, "Well didn't you know this child was reading?" The answer is this. This child had been in a stage where writing down the sounds in a word were not tricky, and sounding out the individual sounds in the word were not a problem, but putting all the sounds together into a word was challenging. Every child that I have taught to read has gone through this stage, some stay in this stage a long time, some fly right through. . . you never know how long it will take for the child to be able to synthesize all those sounds into words. I knew that that was exactly where this learner was. They were working everyday on their sounds. . . but putting it all together was tricky. On this particular day. . . it all came together! It was so exciting. This is the best part of being a teacher!