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Language Arts Curriculum Guide - page 52 / 70





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If too many words grace the walls of a classroom, the use of those words may diminish. Active word walls ensure that the walls are put to good use. Consider these examples:

bat sat that rat mat


at cat flat hat pat

Active Word Walls for Developing Onsets and Rimes In a Primary Classroom

Spelling activities, such as those in Seeds for Sowing Skills, necessarily focus on many word experiences. This is equally as important as learning to spell specific words, perhaps even more important. Active word walls are useful toward this end.

Among these experiences in the early grades is learning to spell by analogy. For example, opportunities to grow word banks through onsets and rimes (band, sand, hand). The onset is the consonant or consonants preceding the vowel in a syllable, such as the sh in ship. The rime is the vowel and any following consonants of a syllable, such as the ip in ship.

Active word walls support spelling-by-analogy. For example, label a chart _at. Ask students to find and write words to contribute to the chart. Some teachers do this as a class, but it can be done independently. Students write their word contributions on sticky-note papers to attach to the chart, or on little slips of paper to place in a shoe box next to the chart. Later, the teacher writes the words on the chart. The list grows over time.

The purpose of this activity is not to teach/test students on the words in the patterns, but to teach students how to make words through analogous thinking. This is in contrast to a lesson that presents a word list reflecting a pattern. The list is ready made. Students study the words and are tested on their spellings--all of which have the same rime. Students do not develop long-term word skills through such an approach, but instead their development is limited--they learn that spelling is a word list for a one-time test.

These growing word banks can be used in multiple ways--have students:

  • read the words

  • spell the words as you touch each letter

  • make rhymes with the words

  • sort the words (e.g., doing words--verbs, and naming words--nouns).

  • identify homophones, antonyms, or synonyms for the words

  • add suffixes to the words

The opportunities for spelling and language development are immense!

INCREASING STUDENT SPELLING ACHIEVEMENT Copyright 2003 Egger Publishing Inc. Reprinted with permission -1-688-937-7355

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