Well hello there teacher friend!
This has most assuredly been a year. In fact, I do think that is the understatement of all existence! We have been pushed to our limits and then some and you know what, we’ve persevered. We’re here and you know what? We’re stronger! I don’t just mean oh adversity makes you stronger blah blah blah, but we’re strong enough to say YES to what works for our students and NO to what doesn’t. After this year, I don’t care anymore about what people think. Life is too short and my students need me too much for me to be wrapped up in the things that don’t matter. Take a look at the video clip below from my last day at school. Can ya relate?
So let’s take a minute. What are you getting rid of? What are you looking forward to? Share with us in the comments below!
You want to know what we’re looking forward to? A NEW NAME!
Now it’s not just a new name my dear classroom buddy, it is a new identity. 10 years ago, S.O.L. Train Learning was born of a music teacher and a primary teacher who wanted to help children learn through music. We thought we were being cute because SOL were the state of VA standards of learning and our original songs were aligned to the VA SOL standards. It was pronounced “soul” train so that was super fun. Problem was, most people didn’t know what S.O.L. stood for and as you can imagine, many thought it meant “sheer” out of luck, you know I mean.
In a way, we were S.O.L. We succumbed to shiny object syndrome, creating any resource under the sun that we thought would be helpful. As a result we exposed you to Netflix syndrome, being overwhelmed by all we had to offer and not really knowing what we were about.
Well, we are no longer S.O.L. and you aren’t either!
Dynamic Learning is here to help you with all your content area literacy needs!
Throughout the last ten years, one thing was always crystal clear with our direction: a passion for literacy. Pam and I studied it, wrote blog posts about it, and put painstaking efforts towards our literacy-building method in the classroom. In celebration of what we are leaving behind and what we are becoming…
Here are 5 secrets to essential literacy in 15 minutes a day:
1. Thematic vocabulary
Students have more purposeful connections with words they understand. If they can experience it with their 5 senses, they can begin creating a knowledge base that unifies decoding, encoding, and overall comprehension. It allows learning to be more natural and less segmented, building connections in all facets of phonological awareness.
Choose 5-6 thematically related words that connect to your science or social studies content areas. Use these words in your reading, writing, and other times throughout the day to reinforce comprehension and phonological awareness.
Want to see an example with classroom culture vocabulary? See our Gold Medal Strategies for Back to School!
2. Daily reinforcement
Whatever you decide to teach, engage in the process daily. Utilize these related and familiar words to teach beginning sounds, word chunks(phonemes and morphemes), and word families. Refer to these elements in context as they occur throughout the day, and be sure to connect to the vocabulary.
I used my morning meeting time to introduce each “word of the day.” I wrote it on chart paper, clapped the syllables, then encouraged students to find patterns they recognized. We reinforced these “word chunks” by finding rhyming words together. I displayed our chart paper around the room as a visual reminder.
3. All-inclusive phonics
If you’re a primary teacher you’ve already heard that students have to learn and practice phonics skills sequentially or they won’t stick. Unfortunately, most teachers make the mistake of teaching phonics skills in isolation. However, without context and connection, your students will rely only on what they know and have trouble progressing in their reading.
Although instructing children in word analysis skills separate from meaningful contexts may allow them to pay more attention to the letter-sound correspondences taught, students taught in this manner do not construct a needed glottographic theory (Ryder, Tunmer, & Greaney, 2008). Without a glottographic theory, students are very unlikely to develop meaning of text. (Martin, 2011)
While it is a lot of information for your students to digest at first, they will comprehend the phonological elements more as you reinforce them. What is important is your students’ ability to recognize patterns in their reading, and the more patterns you teach them (blend, digraph, beginning sounds, vowels, etc), the more they will recognize and become stronger readers!
4. Visual support
Add real photos to your vocabulary words. This picture support will help your emergent learners, especially ELs and special needs, to build the concepts in their minds. Here are some free sites where you can get your photos:
5. Write your theme
Thematic vocabulary is a game-changer when it comes to keeping your students’ writing on topic. Give them a word bank, or post the photos with words around the room and have them reference their thematic vocabulary. Even your students with very early writing skills can draw a picture and label it. You will be amazed at all the connections they make to the concept, images, and most importantly phonological elements!
This really is the complete literacy package! Want to walk through this step-by-step LIVE? We want to invite you to our FREE Stress-Free Literacy in 15 Minutes a Day workshop.
We are going to give you all the secrets that allowed Pam to turn her classroom full of emergent learners into grade-level readers in one year!
In this FREE workshop, we will show you:
- How to prep like a rockstar and maximize your 15 minutes daily
- How to choose the RIGHT vocabulary that will turn your emergent learners into grade-level readers
- How to build purposeful connections that will skyrocket your students’ literacy
Stay tuned for all the exciting updates!
Brittany and Pam