REaChing for the stars
Empowering Multilingual Learners
Let's face it, we could all use a fidget right now. COVID-19 has added a level of stress unprecedented in most of our careers. At some point this year, after returning to in-person learning and being thankful for the opportunity to be back with students, masks and all, I noticed that fidgets seem to be more popular than ever. Students in our school district were excited to be back in school, but having had a spotty year of in-person learning last year, many were anxious about new social interactions, academic demands, and unfamiliar routines with endless transitions. Fidgets, meant to help students channel that energy and be available for listening and attention, are often more of a distraction than a tool for focusing. When modeled appropriately and practiced extensively, some children get really good at using them this way. However, for others they are toys that are a constant distraction, balls that go rolling, putty that gets stuck in ears, etc.
This year, my school has had a heavy focus on the Science of Reading and we are evaluating our school's ability to help meet kids where they are at and move them forward with fundamental literacy skills. Many of my kindergarteners missed much or all of preschool, and when they entered school in the fall, had not yet been exposed to letters, sounds, and rhymes. I began to look at my pre-COVID curriculum more critically, wondering if I had previously done enough to bolster students phonological and phonemic awareness, to help them learn language aside critical skills of letter recognition and help them make sound and spelling correspondences. I knew that I could do more. In the spirit of meeting kids where they are at, I did a quick Amazon search for alphabet toys/games (not advertising here), and found these alphabet pop-its (linked on image above). I bought one to see how it would go over. My students were immediately engaged. Everyone wanted a turn, everyone wondered why Ms. Sarah had a pop-it, everyone was willing to use it for the activities I suggested. So, I bought some more. Now I have enough for a small group to use. Here's how I'm using them.
For students who are just learning letters and sounds:
For students working on CVCs:
I also bought one of these for my nephew, and at Christmas everyone was using it for different self-identified challenges. My sister in-law started us all trying to figure out what was the longest word we could spell without repeated letters. It is fun for the whole family!
Because I'm sure everyone can use an easy, immediately engaging learning tool, I come out of my blog writing hiatus to share this with you. Hope you enjoy it!
I'm Sarah Forbes. I'm the