Saturday, July 21, 2012

Making Words Set Up

Wow, what a busy week! I had 4 meetings including a night of parent/teacher interviews (we have ours starting straight after school from 3pm - 7pm), we had Japanese exchange students come and visit our class for an afternoon and a very busy week with after school sports for my son and my younger brother coming to stay over for a few days. Phew!

Right now I'm still in my PJ's (and it's nearly 1pm) and loving it! I should be doing something productive but instead I've caught up on over 300 Google Reader posts and have been 'Pinteresting'. So, to try and get something done, I thought I'd post about how I set up Making Words. 

I started using Making Words when I started teaching Grade 2 a few years ago. I absolutely LOVED it and so did the kids. This year, I haven't been able to fit it in with my schedule until NOW! My school has elected to do only 1 of the 2 English units in the Queensland C2C units so we are not busting our behinds to get everything done. So, I'm left with a little more time to do things that I think work - so I'm bringing back Making Words!
 I use this book by Patricia Cunningham as a whole class activity. It comes with 100 Making Words lessons that gradually increase in difficulty. For each lesson there is a mystery word that students try and make. I set my materials up as suggested in the book. I have letter cards printed (lowercase one side and capitals on the other) and have used manila folders to make the letter holders. I have all of my materials set-up in my guided reading area (see the second shelf).
The blue drawers hold the letter cards for the kids and I to use. Mine are a larger version for the pocket chart. The pink basket holds the letter folders. Inside the basket I've also placed these aluminum trays that I found somewhere. I use them to set out the letters. I'll probably find something cuter to use soon, but they serve the purpose in the meantime. Inside the trays, I've placed the first 12 or so sorts in envelopes, so they are ready to go. These are the same ones I started using a couple of years ago - once you've set it up, you can reuse the same materials year after year.
Each of the envelopes has a different Making Words activity inside. On the front of the envelope I have all the information I need to run with the lesson (I don't need to carry the book around!).

Basically, there's 3 parts to a lesson. In Part 1, students are making words using letter tiles. They set them up in their letter holder made from a manila envelope. To get the letters, I just take the letters out of the baggie, put them in one of the trays in a row and the students just walk single file to collect the letters. I usually do this activity straight after a lunch break, so it would be set up for when they come in. They just walk in, collect the letters and go back to their desk to set it up. Takes hardly any time at all. This is what their folder looks like. I'd already have the same larger versions of the letters set up in a pocket chart that all students can see. The letters are put in the folder in alphabetical order.
Once everyone is set, I ask students to say and make a word e.g. at. The first person I see who has made the word on the other side of their folder goes up to the pocket chart and makes it with the bigger letters. 
I then proceed to say something like 'Add a beginning sound to make the name Pat'. Here they just need to add a 'P' to  the 'at' they already have, remembering to flip the card over to show the capital P. I always choose the first person to make it so that the lesson doesn't drag on. If a kiddo isn't able to make the word, they can look at the pocket chart version. The words increase in difficulty so that there is usually some challenge for everyone in the class. The example above was taken from the very first lesson for Grade 2. Some of the ways we change words include: 
  • Change the vowel sound to make .....
  • Rearrange the letters in ...... to make .....
  • Change 2 letters to make...
  • Use 7 letters to spell ....
  • Change the ending to make....   etc
I've already written the words on the envelope in order and I just look at them to work out what I'm going to say, rather than just reading from the book e.g. If the word they've made is 'true' and the next one I've written down is 'blue', I can see I need to ask the students to change the beginning blend. 
The lesson ends with the class trying to make the 'mystery' word that uses all of the letters - a great way to challenge the brighter kids. The mystery word above is 'planets'. 

In Part 2 of the lesson, we review the words we made. In each envelope, I've already got all of the words printed (and laminated, just because I'm like that!). We go through each card, saying what we did e.g. First we spelled 'at, a, t', we added a beginning sound to make 'Pat, P, a,t' etc. We then sort the cards, usually by word families, but also beginning sounds etc depending on the sort.
Part 3 of the lesson requires students to transfer patterns from the sort to new words. We all record the words and I add the new words on cards to the sort in the pocket chart. It's great for teaching spelling by analogy. I'd also add/review word family cards on our Word Families word wall so that all students can refer them when writing

I find the lessons take about 30 minutes, including setting and packing up. I love that it's 30 minutes where the all kids are actively involved during each stage. 

Phew, that was a long post! Have you tried Making Words before? Do you find it beneficial or does something else work better for you?