Article #31
No Rest for the Weary!
Preparing for Next Year Already

Cheryl M. Sigmon

Desks, classrooms and schools have only recently been vacated...chalk dust has barely settled...echoes still ring in the hallways...teachers' vocal chords haven't yet recovered. BUT, teachers have already begun to think about next year! There truly is no rest for the weary!

In an attempt to help those of you over-achievers who just don't have a life (ha! outside of the classroom, that is!), the 4-Blocks Column for the summer will consist of brief ideas and reminders to help you to be ever so well prepared for those all-too-soon-approaching August days of the 1999-2000 school year. Many of the reminders will be just those--reminders, not new ideas. My goal is to add to the list weekly if summer 4-Blocks training doesn't prevent my accessing the Internet server to share these ideas with you that regularly.

Now here's one quick way to get started on the second segment of your Words Block.

Words Block:

Get ready for your Making Words lessons.

  • Think about your choices of words based on two main considerations: 1) thematically related big words that provide ample opportunities to build small, pattern words; and 2) words that will help you teach the patterns that are aligned to the curriculum at your particular grade level. Even though it would be ideal always to be able to make the connection from content topics to the big, mystery word, it's probably not always possible. The patterns should be your ultimate objective.
  • After the big word has been selected, you have several choices of resources to use in constructing the lessons:
    1. Many books such as the Making Words series of books (Cunningham and Hall) supply the entire lesson--the small words, the patterns to sort, and the transfer words.
    2. Several Internet sites (search for "anagrams") allow you to type in letters of any big word you want to use and will give you the words for your lesson. You'll, of course, have to plan the patterns that are pertinent and the transfer words.
    3. Some gizmos such as Spelling Aces allow you to input the letters of the words and then will give you all the small words that can be made with those letters. Again, you will need to plan the sorting patterns and the transfer words.
  • Now, you may want to pre-construct your lesson in the following way:

Using a thick black marker, write each of the words on index cards that you will use in your lesson.

Write the transfer words on index cards. You may wish to write them in a different color marker so that you won't confuse them with words that can be made with the letters in your lesson. These transfer words are the ones that will show kids how to apply their knowledge of the patterns in your lesson to real reading and writing.

Write the lesson outline on the front of a clasp envelope (7 x 10 will do). Print the big word across the top. List the 2 letter, 3 letter, 4 letter...and so on... words in their appropriate columns. Take a pencil and use arrows or numbering to determine the route you'll take through the words in your lesson--the order in which you'll have the kids build the words. You may want to number the backs of your index cards in the order in which they will be presented in the lesson. Then, print the patterns you'll use for sorting and another section for the transfer words you'll use in the lesson.

Or, you might take your Making Words book to the copy machine, shrink the lesson you want to use, and paste it on the front of the clasp envelope. (I don't think it's a copyright violation if it's one copy you're making of your own book for your own use!) It doesn't get any easier than that!

  • After you've made many of your lessons, find a way to file them. Do you want to file by themes? Do you want to cross-reference by patterns that need to be taught? Decide on that and then file in a storage bin.
  • If you have a grade-level teacher friend who doesn't mind pooling resources, you and your friend can make these and share. Twice as many lessons in half the time!

4 Blocks Goodies