Rolling with the punches

I’ve learned that a vital part of being a good teacher is rolling with the punches! Each and every day, I make countless adjustments to my plans in order to best serve every one of my students – including two first grade students I currently serve.

Two of our first graders are receiving intensive interventions (recommended both through RTI and LPAC) in order to help them develop some basic phonological skills. We have been working through Heggerty’s phonological awareness curriculum, which consists of a series of 15-minute lessons targeting several skills. I meet with these particular students twice a day, four days a week.

These students’ first goal was to master phonological blending and segmenting. Through structured practice, they each got up to 90-100 percent accuracy with automaticity and no manipulatives. That was a really exciting day! Since they’ve mastered that, we have moved on to rhyming words. I discovered a significant weakness from both students in this area, so we had been working on Heggerty’s rhyming skills and had been generating our own lists of words that rhyme.

This Monday, I picked the students up from special areas for our intervention, as I always do. That day, however, they were total chatterboxes – it was Dr. Seuss week, and what kind of pajamas was I wearing for “The Sleep Book” Day? What day was Tuesday? Wednesday? Why were the eggs and ham green? Had I seen their Dr. Seuss drawings? I think they fit 30 questions into the short walk from PE to my room!

At that moment, I made a decision to totally shift my lesson plan. Instead of continuing with Heggerty’s lessons, we would theme our intervention week around Dr. Seuss! We opened Green Eggs and Ham and started looking for rhymes. We made lists of word families and discussed how they rhyme. We talked about how rhyming words often have the same endings. We generated words that rhymed with “box” and “ham”. The students’ engagement was through the roof!

Switching your plans at the last minute can definitely be nerve-wracking…but it also can definitely pay off! I am so pleased with how involved the students are and how they seem to be making real-world connections when it comes to their rhyming abilities.

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