Sample Lesson

From the book: From Moving and Speaking to Writing and Reading

Writing the First Reader

From Moving and Speaking
to Writing and Reading

Writing the First Reader

After all of the letters have been introduced, the teacher can have the student write his first
sentence. Some teachers like to choose a sentence that bears a moral quality, such as:

THE WORLD IS GOOD.

Another possibility would be a line from a poem, verse or song that the student knows. Notice that this sentence is written in block capital letters. The teacher will write the first sentence on the board (or on the vertically hanging drawing pad) and read it to the student. Then she can convey to the student that during the last month, he has practiced writing all of his letters, and now he can write an entire sentence. Lead the student through the drawing of each letter –one by one. Don’t expect the student to look at the entire sentence and be able to write it exactly as it stands. This is a tracking skill that takes time to develop. That’s why it’s best to proceed letter by letter. Invest the same amount of care in this sentence as was done with form drawing. Each letter of the sentence should be treated as though it were a form drawing. Have the student maintain consistency of height and width of each letter and give the same amount of spacing to each. The teacher will have to plan the layout of the sentence on the page in advance so that none of the words are broken. Often, the student can’t fit more than three short words on a line. In any case, layout – spatial orientation---on the page is an important skill to be developed, so don’t overlook it. Since the student will be using the sentences that he writes as reading practice, it is imperative that they are written correctly. Correct any mistakes such as letters that have been left out. This can be avoided if you proceed letter by letter when writing the sentence. So the content of today’s lesson would include the opening activities followed by a story and then leading into writing the first sentence. The story you choose should embody the theme of the sentence the student will write.Before teaching the student a tongue twister, always precede this with the telling a short vignette to provide an image and greater context. For example, in our picture of the bear who is after the honey, one could imagine that after he had gathered his fill and is now acting like a glutton; that a great big bumble bee comes along and stings the bear right on his nose. The teacher can play this up a bit with a lot of elaboration telling how the bear climbed the tree and how he got a belly ache because he ate so much; how the bees in the hive were so worried, etc. But the bear wants more and gets his just deserts for the sting smarts and he runs away. Now we have the setting to the tongue twister that we will teach the student that took about three to five minutes to present:

LOVE IS IN THE HOME.

A sentence such as this could have a story about someone that has lost his way home and then regains it, so that he knows the truth of this statement. After writing the first sentence, the following lessons in the weeks ahead will call upon the student to write a sentence every day with an accompanying illustration.

The example below shows the first and second page of a student’s first reader. We are following a path of the “writing way to reading.” It is often possible for the student to make more than one written reader during this first year. Notice the six sentences that follow the illustration. These are the six sentences—one for each page—that comprise the entire reader. The teacher has chosen six poignant moments of the fairy tale The Fisherman and his Wife and has written an abbreviated story in six sentences. If the right sentences are chosen—and these can come from the storybook or be created by the teacher---then the single sentence in conjunction with the picture will resonate with a series of events that occur in the story. The sentence should spark the student’s imagination with an entire episode. Thus the whole story is told in six episodes represented by the six sentences.

THE FISHERMAN CAST HIS NET UPON THE WAVES.

THE FISH GRANTED HIM MANY WISHES.

HIS WIFE WANTED TO BE A QUEEN.

THE WAVES GREW DARK AND ANGRY.

SHE WANTED THE POWER TO MAKE THE SUN RISE.

“FIND HER AGAIN IN HER HUT BY THE SEA.”

copyright © 1998: 2001 Bischof
Published by Live Education!