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Teaching Tip: Creating Echoes in the Classroom

Michele Dufresne

Creating Echoes in the Classroom

Children who are learning to read most likely have a small bank of words they know how to read and write. It’s critical to expand this list of sight words. This month, I will be sharing four tips that focus on ways you can create opportunities for your students to learn new words and begin to build a solid processing system.

Marie Clay says, “There should be echoes from one part of the lesson to another part.”

Classroom teachers can create echoes across the days’ and weeks’ literacy events that will help their students who may have a limited repertoire gain a core of known words.

What words should you start teaching? Begin by asking students to write all the words they know how to write. Next, assess these words using an assessment tool. You can download an assessment tool from the Resource Center on our website.

Look at the sight words that show up in your students’ first reading books. Click here to download a list of suggested early words. I like to pick a couple of words and make sure they look and sound different from one another. For example, never try to teach me and my at the same time, or look and like.

Once you have selected a small bank of words to focus on, look for ways to have these words pop up in your daily or weekly lessons. Use them in the morning message each day and ask children to find and circle them. Select Guided Reading books that have these words in them. Use these same words during interactive writing. Find a poem, chant, or big book that these words are used in. Ask students to locate the words. Use these words in center activities. Have the students make their own books using a sentence pattern and the focus words. Click here to download storybook ideas and a storybook template.

Clay says, “The child’s brain is excited to find what it already knows in a different setting.”

You will see how pleased your students will be when they see these words in different places in your classroom. It will feel to them like running into a familiar friend in a new place.

Happy reading!

Michèle Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books  early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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