Have you ever had that moment where you ask students to begin writing and one student says, “But I’ve got nothing to write about.” Sometimes students find it difficult to begin the task of writing when staring at a blank piece of paper.
I know I want my students to have some more practice writing and with different types of writing. But, I wondered how I could incorporate this into our tutoring sessions…
Then as what happens most weeks, one of my students totally inspired me to get creative.
How my student inspired me
I had been tutoring this boy for about 4 weeks and he had made such fantastic progress and in a very short time as well. He came to one of our sessions with a mini book that he had created. It was a comic style book, that as you can expect, was all about good guys, bad guys and shoot em up!
But, what was pretty amazing was the amount that was written, how it was carefully arranged and how he had included words that we had specifically been targeting since we began working together. We spent much of that session looking at his book, reading the words, editing and just generally having fun with it.
This student was inspired to do this on his own and it had meaning to him. It was the perfect teaching opportunity and a way for me to link in what we were learning together and how this could help him be a better writer and speller.
Then, I started thinking about how I could use this idea with some of my other students. I send home lots of phonics consolidation activities, that include word building, reading, dictation and games. However, I felt that my students also needed some further extended writing activities. I thought this would be a great way for them to practice, in context, what we had been learning together.
The idea takes shape
With the teaching program I’m using, Sounds~Write, I have a specific sequence of sounds that I introduce through various units in the Initial Code and the Extended Code. If you’d like to learn more about this program, then head over to the following article that explains more.
I wanted to somehow tie in the phonics focus with the writing focus, so there was a clear link between tutoring sessions and practice at home. Also, I have found that many students always use the same words (what they’re comfortable with) when writing and I wanted to extend their vocabulary and use of words.
So, I created a set of writing prompts, that can be easily photocopied and sent home for students to consolidate the learning we do together.
The writing prompts
Each prompt includes a list of 8 words that the students also need to incorporate into their writing. These include 1, 2 and 3 syllable words that all follow the targeted phoneme focus. This gets students thinking about words that they may not be as familiar with, but are able to spell because they are words that include the code knowledge that they have learnt.
I also thought that it would be good to include different types of writing for the students, that include the different text features. The prompts include the following text forms, writing to:
So far I’ve created a set of 10 writing prompt worksheets that I have been using to send home with my students. The first set has the phoneme focus of ‘ae’ and the words include the spellings: a, ai, ay, a-e and ea. The prompts include:
- Design a mini book about a rainy day
- Write a diary entry
- Design a comic strip about a whale
- Send a postcard
- Write a recipe
- Create a profile
- Write the instructions for a game
- For or against homework
- Create an invitation
- Acrostic poem
In the coming weeks I’ll be moving on to creating writing prompts with the following focus:
- Sound: ‘ee’, spellings: e, ea, ee, y
- Sound: ‘oe’, spellings: o, oa, ow, oe, o-e
- Sound: ‘er’, spellings: er, ir, or, ur
- Sound: ‘e’, spellings: e, ea, ai.
When I have these developed it will be easy to again revise previously learned knowledge and in a different way that will hopefully engage the students.
A mini book example
I had introduced the sound ‘ae’ to one of my students a number of months ago and we had looked at the different spellings for this sound. We had been practicing a variety of 1, 2 and 3 syllable words and also reading books with the phoneme focus. We have since moved on to cover some of the above-mentioned sounds.
I used one of the writing prompts to send home to review the ‘ae’ sound. When the student came in the following week, she was so very proud to pull out her mini book. She told me that she enjoyed the task and found it quite challenging to include all the words, but she did manage to do it.
I thought the book was pretty cool and wanted to share it with you too. Enjoy the story….can you pick the ‘ae’ words that the student needed to include?
Follow up teaching
What I found great about this task was it provided me with some more information on areas that we may need to revise. For instance, the word quickly was spelled in 2 different ways: quicky and quickley. The student seems unsure which spelling of the sound ‘ee’ to pick. We may need to go over this again and look at the patterns that we can find to help her select the correct spelling for the sound.
There are also some words that the student has used that I’m sure she had help with spelling, such as conversation. But, I think it’s great that she’s confident enough to include these words in her writing.
Writing prompts with a phonics focus
Below are some more pictures of the other prompts I’ve created so far. If you’d like to take a look at this pack in more detail then click the below link:
Free mini book template
I thought you might also like the mini book template, click the picture below to download this as a PDF.
Graphics & Fonts by: Graphics From The Pond