Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Personal Lesson in Clarity: Short Vowel Sounds

I call this post a lesson in clarity for me rather than my students. Yesterday, I taught a lesson on short vowel sounds. This lesson was a lesson extension. As such, the lesson had more room for creativity. The 3rd grade class is very familiar with all of the short vowel sounds. Recently, they completed an exercise on proofreading. This exercise required that they exchange a short vowel that results in a word being spelled incorrectly and replace it again with a short vowel that results in that word being spelled correctly.

So, the example I provided was "You'll miss the word that is spelled incorrectly if you don't lasten carefully." So, in "lasten," the short vowel /i/ was swapped for a short vowel /a/. That's how "lasten" was spelled incorrectly. I showed them how I picked a word from "The Legend of Damon and Pythias." I made explicit that the short vowel /i/ in listen was removed and I put in a short vowel /a/. Each of them spent about 5 minutes making their own sentence, which contained any word from Damon and Pythias, and they tried to see whether they could stump someone at their table. I was clear in stating that they would spell a word incorrectly by inserting a different short vowel. Because that's all I said, my instructions were unclear. Here are the ways in which clarity was still lacking in my lesson.

I did not explicitly state that they would remove one short vowel and put in another short vowel. I simply showed them how I only removed one short vowel and replaced it with one short vowel. Some students removed and replaced more than one short vowel from a word that they selected. Some students replaced a consonant with a short vowel. I didn't make explicit that they weren't supposed to do that. Some students removed a short vowel, but they didn't put another short vowel in its place. I'm not sure where my instruction of my lesson was lacking for that to occur. Perhaps, I should have said something like "The word that you will remove a short vowel from should have the same number of letters that it had before you removed that vowel. So, make sure that you give that word a different short vowel back after you take one away."

Anyway, there seem to be areas that I could have been clearer in. At the same time, the lesson wasn't a complete failure, but I just wanted to execute it perfectly (an unrealistic expectation). I would guess that about half the students were able to complete the lesson as I expected. Oh well... Moving right along.

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