Have you ever tried to help a child write the letter e? They often make them upside down, backwards or in parts. They make many strokes like they are drawing the letter instead of writing it. While using the program Handwriting Without Tears I was introduced to the saying “Hit the ball and run around the bases” for remembering how to write the lowercase letter e. It has made a huge difference in developing the writing of that letter.
S: "It is a little big."
Me: "So, what do you think your next goal should be?"
S: Looking at me puzzled.
(So I questioned him through it.)
Me: "I heard you say the e was too big, so what would you like it to be?"
S: "I would like it to be smaller?"
Me: "So, do you think making the e smaller next week should be your goal?"
S: "Yes, that should be my goal for next time?"
The next week we practiced tracing the e as a reminder of the correct path. He then wrote his name and that e was smaller without any reminders. Another goal achieved and another celebration.
My big AHA! Was he noticed the e being bigger than the other letters in his name. I am not sure what he has been working on in his classroom, but the thing I was excited about was his self_reflecting. He is in the beginning months of kindergarten and is able to self-reflect. That is a strength on which we we can build.
Recently, I started volunteering in Kindergarten at a local elementary. This is a new experience since I am used to being a part of the school staff and having access to the data, demographics, assessment information, etc. As a volunteer I have limited access to information, rightly so. Confidentiality is oh so important. So this is going to challenge me to support in a different way. This is an opportunity for me to grow. Always a good thing. So… Here I go. Time to Innovate Inside the Box. (If you have not read this book by George Couros and Katie Novak you should)
I will be working with a total of 17 students at this time from 4 different rooms in a two hour time slot over two days. Some students meet with me twice a week and some meet once. It will mean I am working with each student for less than 10 minutes.
I have been provided with information about letter recognition for upper and lower case and sounds for each student. It is amazing how that is not as important as I once thought, at least initially.
I started my session with each student chatting from the classroom to the work room since I am pulling out. I introduced myself and shared what we would be doing and building excitement about this opportunity. We took a photo and then I showed them how we could add their name using a photo collage app. Who knew the amount of learning you could witness from this one little activity? I discovered the following.
When they went to sit down they immediately went for the smaller student chairs and avoided the teacher computer chair. When I am able, I offer the comfy chair to the student. In this case, I also had another reason. There is a taller table in the room I work. So, putting the student in the chair adjusted higher allows them to reach materials and work in a better setting. I want to set them up for success. I will also offer to allow them to stand in the future. I may also move the chair so it faces away from the door to remove distractions. Considering the environment is so important.
I loved the reactions to the question, “Would you like to sit in the big chair?” Some jumped right into it. Others were a little apprehensive, but jumped in when I showed them the why. When they sat in the smaller chair there chin can to the top of the table. Then, I asked them to sit in the bigger chair. We discussed how the girl in the three bears tried out all three chairs to know which one is just right. They all decided the taller chair would be just right for them so they could reach the table.
Next, I had them match magnetic letters to the printed letters on my dry erase board.
My watch fors were:
I had a student who wanted to build words and she built like and no. She said no, but built on. I could praise finding the correct letters and then ask what sound do you hear first. She immediately changed the letters. This tells me a strength. She can hear the sounds and knows what order she heard them so she has some phonemic awareness skills.
The students I will be working with have a wide range of skills. They all have strengths we can build on and I want to give them a sense of them determining their learning path. I make sure to let them know they are there to teach me what they know and what they need/want to learn. I am a student too and if they teach me we can grow together.
April Padalino and Cyndi Dull
We are educational coaches with a passion for learning and empowering students, parents, and educators to Bring Education to Life.