I have a confession to make. When I first started teaching Wilson Reading System, I thought the program was really BORING. I wondered how I was going to repeat the same types of lessons over and over, but then I realized that it wasn't the program that had a problem, it was me! I decided to start thinking of ways to make the material more engaging and began my Wilson Game Day on Fridays. We have been having a lot of fun playing games to reinforce the phonics skills we are working on (see my last blog post for ideas), but last Friday my students told me that what they really wanted to do was read the silly passages and make them into plays to act out for our class. Unfortunately, the passages are pretty short, so I decided instead to begin writing my own Reader's Theater scripts for each Wilson objective for our class to perform.
Thus, I give to you my first paid product on Teacher's Pay Teachers: "The Jam". A play about a boy who is in search of his favorite jam and the trials and tribulations he faces to find it. The play focuses on using words in the Wilson 1.5 objective (am and an welded sounds), but it also includes words from the previous objectives as well as fairly easy sight words.
The benefits of using Reader's Theater are numerous. First, it helps kids tremendously with fluency. Kids read through the words countless times to practice. Second, it builds confidence in students when they "perform" and can see how beautifully they sound when reading. Third and most importantly, it brings a lot of joy and creativity to the classroom. I hope others get a kick out of this product and can use it in their classrooms.
I started teaching a neat phonics/reading fluency program last month called the Wilson Reading System after going through a 3-day training. Wilson is part of a suite of products from Wilson Language Training including Fundations and Just Words. Currently, we use Fundations for our PK-3rd grade classrooms at my school and Just Words for about half of our 4th graders who need additional reading support. Wilson is a Tier 3 small group intervention for students who typically have dyslexia and can be taught from third grade through adulthood.
My Wilson group is a mix of third and fourth graders and 75% of them have a diagnosed reading specific learning disability. All Wilson groups start at the same spot regardless of past reading achievement or exposure. The lessons are highly repetitive and unfortunately cannot be planned more than a day in advance (two things I strongly dislike as a teacher). I figured my students would hate the repetitive nature of each lesson (because I won't lie it's not my most fun class to plan), but it's actually been a good reminder that content can be made fun no matter what it is as long as you believe in what you are teaching, have some good classroom management skills, and establish a fun classroom culture.
In Wilson, we do a lot of reading "Dick and Jane" type sentences and passages. The first time I read these I wanted to stab my eyes out, but then a student had the great idea to act out one of the sentences: Jim had a cut on his leg. You can only imagine the impressive war wounds Jim experienced. Now we end up reading these sentences over and over through doing things like charades (you can't win unless you have perfect fluency) and partner interpretive reading.
We also have a Wilson Friday Game Day (encouraged by the founders of Wilson actually) where I have been introducing a different game each week to go along with the step we are on. I have so far been able to find a lot of great games on the FCRR website that align closely to our objectives. I will post the games I find for other teachers to use in case they find them helpful. Here are my games so far. These have all been tried and approved by my group:
1.3: Students learn all the short vowel sounds, consonants, and the digraphs of th, sh, wh, ch, and ck.
I used several of my different short vowel phonics games. I'll post more specifics later, but these were things I already had on the shelf.
1.4: Students learn that they should double the final l, s, and f in words with short vowels. Example: miss, fill, staff. They also learn about the welded sound -all. Example: ball.
1.5: Students learn about the welded sounds -an and -am. Example: ham, pan.
Candace Burckhardt is an international education consultant with an emphasis on special education, English learners, and social-emotional learning.