Helping Hand for Reading and Writing

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

I left Beth Schetter’s small classroom last week (Mar.12, 2012 blog – Great Graphics Assist Struggling Students) with more ideas to share. My first blog featuring Beth’s effective teaching tools and tricks focused on graphics to help fourth and fifth grade students master difficult subjects in Science.

As you can see in her blog pic here,

Beth Schetter's smile welcomes visitors to her classroom.

Beth was happy to invite me back to take a closer look at how she uses great graphics to help struggling students with Reading and Writing, as well.

Beth serves as an Intervention Specialist in a Pre-K – 5 school, working with fourth and fifth grade students along with a class of first graders – all in need of an extra helping hand.

Beth has had a lot of success finding copyright-free teaching resources online. Occasionally, though, she takes marker in hand herself to help kids visualize key language arts concepts. Check out my blog pic below (poor thumb got left out!) and know that you don’t need to be an artist to make your own effective visual aids.

A helping hand for reading

Beth’s Helping Hand for Reading challenges kids in a reader-friendly way. Palm first, boldly reminds readers to ask this important question…What can I do when I have trouble with a word?

Next, five fingers in a row match visual images with reading prompts related to deciphering words and stories altogether. The thumb tells the graphic viewer to “look at the picture.” Pointer says, “think about the story.” Middle finger advises, “go back and read it again.” Ring finger suggests, “make the first sound with your mouth.” Pinky chimes in, “make a guess and check it.”

I’m not sure if Beth verbally introduces the Helping Hand above to her first graders the way my writing describes it, but the language as I’ve presented it here would be effective I think, because it assigns personality to each part of the hand. You could even add first names to further differentiate the concepts that this simple visual aide reinforces. For example, if you’re teaching in English, you could call the palm of the hand, “Precious Palm” (precious for remembering to ask such an important question!). Try “Thomas Thumb” “Patti Pointer,” “Maxie Middle Finger” (after all, he is the tallest), “Rosie Ring Finger,” and finally, “Percy Pinky.”

Beth’s classroom walls are covered with eye-catching, helpful graphics to support student improvement in reading and writing.

The best way to read together!

The poster  in my blog pic here, directed at younger children, has an attention-getting heading, EEKK. A quick read of the poem shown explains that EEKK stands for elbow to elbow and knee to knee. In case you can’t clearly see the writing in the photo, the poem (poet unknown) reads:

Elbow to elbow

knee to knee

I’ll read to you and

you’ll read to me.

Elbow to elbow

knee to knee

book in the middle

so we both can see!

To help struggling fourth and fifth grade students master core writing concepts  Beth has posted another set of graphics on one of her classroom walls. The set  features the word W-R-I-T-E.  

An attention-getting writing graphic

As you can see in the example pic here, each letter is paired with a colorful picture to reinforce the message.

W – Will your audience form a picture from your details? Graphic: a presenter in front of the first row of an audience.

R – Read the story to yourself. Read with the teacher. Graphic: a funny figure in pajamas and a sleep cap reading a book while sitting on a crescent moon.

I – Is my story inviting? Is there a capital letter at the beginning of every sentence? Graphic: a capital letter highlighted in a sample sentence.

T – THINK! Is there a clear beginning, middle and end? Graphic: a happy face with a lightbulb lit up on top.

E – Each part includes * characters * setting * problem * solution (not all stories present problems to be solved, but this is one approach to help students write well). Graphic: a piece of paper with a big check mark on it.

Beth reports that students have so much more to say about their story writing when she holds up the W-R-I-T-E posters one at a time than they do if she simply asks them to re-tell the story. “The posters serve as prompts,” explains Beth, “and they lead to awesome conversations!”

Large letter posters, catchy rhymes, helping hand graphics – all effective tools – but the best hands of all are the hands that teachers bring to their classroom tables every day, ready to help students at all levels learn and grow.

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you next week,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Students are having trouble writing connecting sentences between the beginning, middle and end of a story.

Solution: Show toy airplanes, pretending to make them "take off" across notebook paper. Explain to the class that stories, like airplanes, require clear "flight paths."

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