Learning a new way to teach—or learn— is fun.
Last week I had the privilege of attending a Vulnerable Readers Summit: When Struggling Readers Thrive. As an educator it was valuable, engaging and yes, even fun. While I haven’t yet mentally unpacked all my professional learning, there was some great material I could take back and start using in my grade one classroom immediately.
Keynote speaker Katie Garner M. Ed, creator of The Secret Stories, shared a way, based on brain research, to explain all of the exceptions that exist in written English. Her Secret Stories help students make sense of those times when they discover letters behaving unexpectedly and ask why. Having these stories to teach is much more engaging that an abstract rule or an answer of “we just have to memorize that word”.
Although we are just beginning with this system, my students can already tell you why only vowels can say their own names—they are Super-Heroes. Why does Letter Y have three sounds? He’s Sneaky Y” and stole the super hero capes of letters E and, but only wear’s them in the middle or end of words where he won’t get caught!
I’ve already heard students telling the stories to each other, singing “The Better Alphabet” that we learned, and using alphabet bingo cards to test each other on the sounds.
Lisa Schoeler (@LisaSchoeler and @GWgrade1s) is a Grade 1 teacher at Guy Weadick Elementary.