The excitement of reading and word solving recently reached a high point in the first grade classrooms as the students earned their Word Detective Badges and their Word Scanners from the Super-Secret Detective Agency (SSDA). Earlier in the word solving unit, the SSDA delivered a few missions to the classrooms asking for each student to use all of their knowledge to solve new words when reading. The missions involved using (and strengthening) their beginning word solving skills and their developing reading habits to not allow any hard words get in their way of reading. The students used everything that they knew about letters, sounds and high frequency words to stop and solve tricky words when they noticed a problem with their reading. Students were encouraged to look for the small words within a word, use their phonetics skills, reading strategies and sentence structure.
After a few weeks of detective training, the 1st grade Word Detective graduation ceremony was held. The day of the ceremony started with the students decoding a sentence in their classrooms that directed them to the playground. In the playground, another sentence was found that, once decoded, sent them to the auditorium to receive their Word Scanners (a small LED Light that is worn on a fingertip to light up letters and words) and use them in the dark auditorium to read their books with friends.
First grade teacher Ms. Helen Hamza explained that the activity is part of the Teacher’s College Units of Study for Teaching Reading by Lucy Calkins that is designed to give students more strategies and fun ways of solving words. This is the second year that the teachers have used the program and it has been a huge success. All of the students have improved their reading skill level and had fun along the way. Student Ryan Nasser said he “liked getting the word scanner’ and using it on his finger.
If you are having trouble solving words, try the strategies listed above or ask one of the 1st grade students. They might even show you their scanner.