Lessons Learned

777669af68dbccabc30c3b6bcaa818253On Friday, I presented a professional development session for some incredible Seattle public school teachers. During the course of my session, I modeled the “look, say, name, cover, writer, check” strategy that was originally introduced by Diane Snowball and Faye Bolton in their book, Spelling K-8: Planning and Teaching (Stenhouse, 1999).

In a nutshell, this strategy invites students to create a mental image of an unfamiliar word (or parts of it if it’s a long word) in their minds. This strategy uses the following steps, as reflected on page 214 of Spelling K-8:

  1. “Look at the word, perhaps noticing words within the word, looking at the parts of the word, or underlining known parts.
  2. Say the word.
  3. Name the letters of the word.
  4. Cover the word and picture it in your mind.
  5. Write the word from the picture in your mind.
  6. Check to see that you have all of the letters in the word, and in the correct order.”

Whenever I introduce a new strategy to teachers, I try to provide an authentic learning experience for them as adult writers. So when I modeled the “look, say, name, cover, write, check” strategy, I chose an adult-level word to learn (as opposed to words like “can” or “because”). I selected the word “pneumonia.”

While the teachers enjoyed learning this new strategy, I made a rather noticeable error: I failed to clearly articulate the purpose of the strategy. This became obvious when a teacher responded, “I don’t think children should be learning words like ‘pneumonia.'” While this strategy could be used to learn any unfamiliar word, I clarified that “look, say, name, cover, write, check” was an ideal way to teach high-frequency words, words that are frequently used in reading and writing.

As a literacy coach, I need to remember that teachers and students learn in similar ways. If they don’t understand the purpose of a strategy, they may miss the learning entirely.


1 Comment

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One response to “Lessons Learned

  1. If only you knew how much you, and all other great teachers, are appreciated. Great post.

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