The beginning of a new calendar year is typically when we’re assessing how it’s been going and what we can do to improve. Following are TEN TIPS for putting together your SWR the lessons.
Tip #1: Review Phonograms DAILY.
See SWR p. 40 for the TWO ways you want to practice phonograms every day (reading and spelling).
Tip #2: Include some form of writing every day.
In the beginning, this will involve penmanship practice. Once the student is into the spelling lists, you’ll add sentence writing. Once you’re making headway with sentences, add paragraph writing, using your spelling words as a spring board.
The Wise Guide is full of excellent ideas to get you going with sentence and paragraph writing. I always like to sprinkle sentence writing in here and there throughout the week, but especially save time the day before the end-of-the-week test for any larger assignment.
Use your spelling words as a resource for writing. Children need to experience those words in the context of their language for the spelling of the words to sink in. When you neglect sentence writing, reading can also stall out.
Tip #3: Teach the words you want to cover for the week on the first two days.
Teach new words the first two days of the week when you and your student are fresh. This also gives you time over the rest of the week to review the words adequately.
Tip #4: Each day should involve reading.
In the beginning this will simply include you and the student enjoying your daily read aloud. Once the student is reading, you’ll add time each day for him to also be reading.
Tip #5: Use meaningful reinforcement activities.
Refer to Step #13 and the lower portion of each Wise List for suggestions on how to review that list’s words. The average student needs a minimum of SIX “meaningful” experiences with a word for him to know it. Copying the spelling words six times does not count! (Please don’t include that in your lesson plans ? as it is a passive and unproductive waste of time.) Instead, branch out into other areas of language arts and explore this wonderful language we call English. The Wise Guide Enrichment Activity Worksheets provide ready-made lessons to explore all those wonderful ideas in your Wise Guide.
Tip #6: Plan your lessons.
Write on the calendar the scope of what you want to accomplish for the year, but then plan out the specifics of those lessons for what you want to complete for each week. Only plan a week or two at a time so you can adjust as you see how it’s going. When I was teaching my own students, I would forget to review phonograms every day if it weren’t written on my weekly plans!
Tip #7: Adjust your length of lessons to your student’s skill level and age.
The younger your student, the shorter your lessons need to be. That doesn’t mean you don’t accomplish much in a day; it just means that you do two or three shorter sessions over the course of the day. A Kindergartner can read the phonogram cards before leaving the breakfast table, take dictation on five words before working on Math, and then practice penmanship after lunch while you work with big brother nearby.
Tip #8: Review through quizzing.
Include daily quizzes as a way to review current and previously taught phonograms and words. Are you teaching new words that day? Quiz the phonograms that will be needed for that specific list. Already taught words for the week? Quiz phonograms and words that need more review.
Tip #9: Include Reference Page review.
Allow for time in your week to introduce and review Reference Pages. These pages are where we introduce many of the rules and where the student gets to experiment with how the rules play out with spelling words under current study. This is valuable review and is often overlooked.
Tip #10: Include activities not in Wise List.
Add to your calendar reminders for when you’ll introduce names of Months and Days of the Week (see Step #15) since these aren’t included in the Wise List. Also, note when you’ll be giving diagnostic tests for progress analysis. My preference was to give a diagnostic test at the beginning of the year and at the end of each academic quarter.