At the moment, we have introduced the letters, l, o, g, h, t, p, n, and a. Students take 2 file folders and place them, standing up on their desk to make "privacy offices" to work in. I do this so that students sitting next to each other can't just copy off of each other's papers. They are supposed to pull in their chair and slide their standing folders to the edge of their table. I have tried this for the last 8 years with little luck. Those little guys still manage to lean back and peak around the folders and copy the work of their friend. Outside of assessing them individually, (which I do), it gets tricky trying to see who really does actually know these letters. I have even tried to just have them use their hand to cover their work after they write an answer, but some still forget to do that too.
I finally came up with something that I love and so do they! A simple post-it piece of paper has made a great difference in so many ways!
I call this piece of paper their "secret note" and it adds an air of mystery, just because of the name. They stick the paper over the area they are writing on. When I ask them to write the letter that makes the sound that says, "/n/", they lift the post-it, write their answer, then let the post-it drop again. It REALLY helps cover the work they have done and hides it from their neighbors, so it takes away the copying problem!
While they are sitting their waiting, and possibly waiting more while I repeat the sound, they used to get off task. They have something to do now! While the students are waiting, they look at the letters I have put up on the board and can practice more writing by writing the letters or making words with the letters on their "secret notes". (Most of them haven't figured out how to make words yet, so they just practice writing the letters.)
They can earn a sticker for their chart if they participate. The stickers on their chart earn prizes, so of course they all participate. The bonus is that I then have another current rendition of their writing style that I can pull off their paper and include in their portfolio that I go over with parents during our fall parent conferences. I can show the parents whether students are creating their letters correctly or not. This exercise has definitely shown improvement in writing for many of my students!
Here is my newest favorite iPad app that I also use for letter writing practice!
It is a simple tracing app that WILL NOT let the student draw the letter incorrectly. We do write with a D'Nealian style in class, but this font is pretty good still. In the picture above, you touch the animal head and pull the animal head down to "eat" the food, or sometimes, a tractor picks up hay or a whale eats food or a crab walks too. It's fun and interactive. It includes tactile sound as well. You can use a free version or update to a pro version for $1.99. A really nice option for this is that you do not have to go through the entire alphabet. In my case, I can simply scroll across the screen to get to the 7 or 8 letters I am currently covering.
I have 3 iPads in the classroom, so when my students finish their morning work, they can go to the iPads to practice those letters we are working on. The writing in the classroom this year has really improved, thanks to these few changes I have made this year! We love it and hope you do too!
On Mondays, I use the page from this packet I have created for morning work:
On Wednesdays, I use the page from this packet I have created for morning work:
A final result of all of this letter writing practice has been that students are now creating their own "secret notes" for their homework. They are having their parent tape papers to their homework and they are bringing in little sheets of paper with extra letter writing on them! I loved it so much, I reward these with stickers too. I have not announced this as something to do, but students have noticed others doing it and now a lot of the kiddos are bringing these sheets in every morning!
What do you do for letter writing practice?
Enjoy the ideas!