After they make an entry, have children drop off their journals at the front of class in a bag.

The children’s writings offer a chance for you to learn about your students, their interests, and their emerging abilities as readers and writers. With the daily chitchat, you also have the chance to give them regular feedback and motivation to write. Use your responses to provoke an ongoing written dialogue about topics, ideas, and experiences. As time goes on, interesting exchanges will unfold.

Spelling words complements reading them. Choose a list of five words that match the letter-sound patterns the children currently are learning to read. Say the first word as part of a sentence. Then say it alone. Then say it very slowly, almost pausing between each sound. Now go to the board and call for the class to help you choose the letters you should write in order to spell it correctly. Do the same routine for each of the next words. Then have the class read the list from the board. Next, have each child take a piece of paper while you erase the board. Say the words, one by one, in a different order, but stop after each word to give the children a chance to write it. After everyone has written the first word, choose one child to go to the board, say it slowly, and write it. Give everyone a chance to fix their spelling before you go on to the next word. Ask the children to spell the words for someone at home that night. They should also ask that person at home to write down a sentence that the child has dictated for each of the five words, leaving a blank where the word should go. Next day, read the sentences from home and have the child fill in the blank.

Accomplishments of the First Grade Student

In first grade, it should all come together: language and literacy skills should combine to turn children into real readers. A particular set of accomplishments that the successful learner should exhibit by the end of first grade are shown in the following table. Because of their importance, we present them in full, as published in Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (National Academy Press, 1998). Again, this list is neither exhaustive nor incontestable, but it does capture many highlights of the course of literacy acquisition. Although the timing of these accomplishments will vary among children, they are the sorts of things that should be in place when children enter second grade.

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