Assisting with writing

writing1This student is well into her series of lessons and she is experiencing various ways of solving words as she is writing her daily sentences.

After a discussion about her text “A Bike For Alex” she composed a sentence about her own bike

She wrote- I got a new bike and it was broken but my Mum and Dad fixed it.

new bike

Some words were already known and she needed no intervention from me: I, got, a, new, and, was, but, my, mum, Dad, it.

Bike was solved by comparing it to a known word- like (analogy). I asked her to spell like and I quickly wrote it on the top page and I told her she could use it to work out how to spell bike, which she easily did.

For broken and fixed she used letter boxes. Each box represents one letter and she was required to think about which letters she would expect to SEE. This is different to just thinking about the sounds that she can hear (sound boxes). (HRSW)

For broken she quickly wrote bro. I had asked her if she expected to see a c or a k and she correctly chose k. She then wrote brokne. I helped her to change the ending by covering it with tape and asking her what else it could be.

Before I gave her the outline of the letter boxes for fixed I asked her to try to write it herself. She wrote ficet. She tried it again using the letter boxes and she quickly wrote fix. The ending puzzled her until I had her compare it to looked. (The ending sounds like a t but it is represented by ed.)writing1

Lots of work goes into the 8 -10 minutes of writing!

If you would like to explore this topic further you may like to download the following article. It is written for Reading Recovery teachers but if you skip past the wordy beginning you can read some more examples of assisting children to solve words as they are writing. Powerful Teaching Interactions in Writing: Lessons from Reading Recovery Teachers

Multiple ways of learning

One of my students has difficulty remembering the word ‘the‘ despite it being a word that is seen often! Here are some ways that she experienced this word on Friday.

rub out theRubbing out the words on the little whiteboard as I asked her to locate each one. The word ‘the‘ was written the most. The other words were ones that she knew well.





find theFinding all the  ‘the‘ words on a page of afind the again
familiar book before she read it to me.





mag letter

Making the word with magnetic letters. Sliding her finger under the finished word from left to right in order to get a picture of it ‘in her head’.


writing theWriting the word 5 times in her writing book before adding it to her daily sentence.






new bookLocating the word on the cover of her new book at the end of the lesson.

Hopefully all of these tasks will help her to easily recognise the word the next time she sees it.fingers crossed

Learning for who?

happy childLast Monday we had a Curriculum Day lead by Jo Lange. The topic was Beyond ‘Telling Off’. Part of the day was spent discussing student motivation and independence.

Jo reminded us that students often think that learning is all about pleasing the teachers. We would rather that students want to learn for the benefit of themselves. The warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from finally working out how to solve a word independently, may lead to the desire and confidence to tackle other challenges that will come along. This is much more beneficial than the fleeting desire for a sticker. (But stickers can have their place too! I’m still going to put them in the homework books.)

Teachers were told to be careful of saying statements such as “I like your reading” because it implies that the purpose of the reading is to make the teacher happy. The teacher will be happy if the students reads well, but that is not the chief purpose of the reading. I want my students to show determination and to want to read, whether I am there or not.

So…. I am trying hard not to make statements that make the learning all about my approval. Instead of saying ‘I like…’ I am saying comments such as, ‘You helped yourself by rereading to fix the word that didn’t sound right‘ and ‘You chose the right letters for the end of that word’. happy-stick-girl

It’s not easy to change overdone praise such as ‘well done’ and ‘good job’. I’m trying to be specific about what the child is doing well so that he and she knows exactly what strategy is being celebrated.