Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The "Spelling Chip"

Today I tried a new strategy with my first and second grade classes that I adapted from a video I saw in PD this week. In the video the teacher explained how when she did centers/guided reading with her students she was getting a lot of questions from students that they really could answer themselves. It was getting to the point where she couldn't do her small group instruction because of the interruptions so she came up with a system where each group of students got a "question chip" in which they could use once during the 90 minute centers time to ask a question. This made me think of my lower grade classes and how all of the students are constantly asking me how to spell words that are on the word wall or that in any case they could be attempting on their own. I sometimes tell them to try on their own and other times end up helping three kids spell words simultaneously. It was getting out of hand.

Today I introduced the "Spelling Chip." Each student got a chip (really a math counter) that they could use to ask me how to spell a word. I explained how they could only use it once so they should try to save it for a really tricky word. We reviewed the different ways they could try to spell a word if they didn't know how (word wall, stretch it out, look around the room, ask a friend) and I stressed that even if they didn't spell the word correctly I would be very happy to see that they tried.

It worked like a charm. Only two (TWO!!) students asked me to help them spell a word because they were so interested in "saving" their chip. I still went around the room helping the students with their writing and in some of those cases helped them with spelling and sounding out words, but for the first time I didn't have a huge mob of seven year-olds around me asking me how to spell every single word.

I'm hoping that it wasn't just the novelty that was exciting for them and that we can keep this system going. (It's nice because the tangible aspect of it keeps me on track too.)