We got a new administrator last March and though I am SO sad our previous principal retired, I can honestly say my new principal has caused me to rethink and change the way I put my literacy block together. First was the light bulb moment that went off when she told me she was more interested in WHAT I TAUGHT then she was in WHAT I COVERED! So often I put pressure on myself and my students to get through a years worth of material whether or not they mastered it and I was nervous if I wasn't moving on like the book said too. This year I am happily focusing on taking the time to teach and getting to the next skill when we're ready. We took the first six weeks of school to build D5 stamina, learn procedures and routines and review kindergarten material. I truly feel it has made a huge difference and I know these kids so much better than I might have had I started Treasures the first week of school. One of the things I am doing differently is giving spelling a pretest on Friday. It allows me to look over what the kids already know and give them a differentiated list on Monday. The pretest is always the 10 words Treasures recommends. If a student knows all the words or only misses a sight word I will give them two additional words. I look to see where they made their first two mistakes in the beginning of the year Words Their Way assessment and then try to merge that with the phonetic skill of the week. So for last week I add the words dish, and ship to the list, giving these students 12 words. If a student misses four words or less they will study the Treasures list. For my students who miss more then 4 words I give them the 8 phonetic words and leave off the sight words. I created the following forms to give the pretest and also to their spelling list home.
I fold these in half before passing them out to the kids and then once we take the test have them open them up to see how they did.
Over the weekend I highlight the words the kids need to study and add words in the two blank spaces. Once I get to school on Monday I just staple one half into their Word Work book and send the other half home. On Fridays I use the spelling test papers from What The Teacher Wants. This method has been working so well this year I couldn't be happier. It makes me feel like I am really instructing all my kids not just the ones who don't know the 10 words Treasures recommends.