No More Letter of the Week

No More Letter of the Week?

For more than five years, I taught a letter per week and sometimes every other week. That is just what we did at my former campus, and so did all the other Pre-K classrooms across that school district. I taught letter “Mm” and read stories about monsters, moose, mice and we made crafts based on the “Mm” words we were learning. The students tasted muffins and they decorated letter Mm. This is the letter of the week method. Well, it turns out that this is not the best way to teach children the letter names and sounds. Luckily, I was given the opportunity to use the book “No More Letter of the Week” in my Kindergarten classroom. After using this program for teaching letters, for only one school year, I am sold! I love this method so much and it is more fun for both me and my students. Recently, I began searching for the reasons and research behind the effectiveness of “No More Letter of the Week.”

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I came across many articles found at a fellow teacher’s blog: turns out that she embarked on her own research as well. Here is the amazing research:

“Arguments for Moving Away From LOTW

  • Fluent letter recognition is one of the (if not THE) predictors of reading success (Adams, 1990).
  • Removing letters from their meaningful context removes the meaning and purpose from the letter.
  • Children who are taught letters in isolation have difficulty placing that information into literacy activities (Wood and McLeMore, 2001).
  • It is more meaningful to introduce letters as they become meaningful to the students.
  • Just because you and I were taught with the LOTW many years ago does not mean it is the BEST way to teach letters. Remember the Virginia Slims saying “We’ve come a long way baby”? Well, we have come a long way in education and current research supports teaching letters in context and not in isolation.
  • Teaching with LOTW slows readers down, yet it’s too fast for others, it doesn’t meet the needs of all learners and there is no room for differentiation.
  • The students who struggle the most with learning the letters are the ones who are least helped by teaching letters in isolation. They need something to help them make connections – isolating letters doesn’t do that.”

Teaching letters without focusing on a different letter each week

NMLOTW (No More Letter of the Week) teaches the sounds of letters within context of rhymes and motions. Children are selected to be a “Letter Expert” for each letter of the alphabet. The letter expert reads a book from her teacher, which is on her reading level, but contains words with the “special letter.” The letter expert practices the book at home and then reads it to the class. A sentence from the book is then written on pieces of sentence strips and the class works together to put the sentence back together again. The special letter is emphasized while the student teaches everyone about her expert letter. She brings in items beginning with her letter and she also brings in a large letter that is decorated with print and cut-outs from magazines that contain words beginning with the special letter. A special bulletin board or wall is set up by the teacher to display each letter. If the wall is at student level, it can be utilized by the children to reread the sentences using pointers. Their book can also be placed in the letter square. This is a great center, as the letter’s continue being added.

This is a very informative article, that is well worth reading: “N is for Nonsensical” by Dr. Susan B. Neuman

20110815-113628.jpg This is the “Reading Wall.” This is the set-up part, before the student use it. I used painters tape on my second white board, to section off the 26 sections (plus 1). When each letter is introduced in the curriculum, one child will be the “Letter Expert,” and take home a large cut-out letter, an emergent reader book (I use little books from the Pearson Reading Street curriculum). Also, inside of the take home bag is a sentence from the book that contains a word beginning with the letter expert letter.

Here is the parent letter that I send home in the take-home bag: Letter expert parent letter