May 04, 2014
May 04, 2014
Finally, a copy of Think Read Write by Eric Kane and Christine Graf is in my hands and upon a quick look I like what I see.
Looking at the dictionary section in the back of the book, I see just a few words which I don't usually cover, those being: exit (I will adapt my pronunciation), itchy, stinky, I do "smelly", and t-rex (a good one), there are some others which I normally work with somewhat later but that's no problem.
I'm looking at this cold, not having read the introduction, listened to the CD or to one of Eric's presentations. Oh! The reason I'm using this book is that I have some students who have studied NFO 1 already and they are moving into a class, at their parents request, with some brand new students; we'll be using TRW and BAH here. I have another class where some of the students just haven't got it yet, though they have completed NFO 1 units 1-10. I'll be using TRW, for review, alongside BAH and NFO 1 (units 11-15).
Unit 1 introduces the 5 short vowels, the same as NFO and BAH. I would have been disappointed if the book were in alphabetical order as with some popular texts, so in this sense it is similar to NFO. It starts off with a track game which covers all the vocabulary (pictures) in unit 1, with the words printed below. I'm supposing that this is for pre-teaching the vocabulary, if you are like me and prefer to introduce the vocabulary throughout the unit, then you can save this page for later.
The initial and medial vowel sounds are covered from the very beginning and when applicable the initial and final consonant sounds as well as the double consonant sounds/spelling. There are 7 activities to each single letter sound and a review section to each unit and there are over 90 full color A4 sized pages.
The 7 activities in unit 1
1. The vocabulary for this unit is introduced with "What is it?" and 4 pictures. Phonics purists may not like the fact that each picture is accompanied by a word but the focus is definitely on the target sound/letter. The graphics are all colorful, original and child friendly and having just 4 (common) words to each single letter sound makes this, for me, a great supplementary text as the number of additional words students have to learn will be minimal. For the novice teacher some of the these "What is it?" questions may be problematic, though perfectly acceptable to the native speaker. E.g., "What is it?" "Itchy" or "It's an itchy boy." or "It's a picture of an itchy boy." and so on.
2. /a/ /a/ apple, /a/ /a/ ant, /a/ /a/ cat. "Point and read" or point and chant. This reminded me of the speeds sound chart from a long time past, which I use in a similar manner. Very easy to have students repeat after you, after each other or recite in unison.
3. "Point. Say. Circle" Identify each picture and possibly word and circle the target letter.
4. "Trace the red (letter).) With your finger. The start point and direction of the stroke is clearly marked. E.g., the letter 'a' has a start point set at 2 o'clock. Great, because many students feel 12 o'clock is a good start point. Why??
5. "Write and say." Students trace over or write the target letter (lower case) as they recite the sounds. Just two lines but there is more practice in the review pages at the end of each unit, still you'll need to have students do some extra work in their notebooks or you can use worksheets or other workbooks for this. I have never had much success at getting them to "write and say", some enjoy it but often they end up writing in silence (What are they thinking?).
6. "Write (the target letter)". Not challenging at this stage just writing the target sound to complete each word. I'm okay with it but I wouldn't focus on the word as I am teaching phonics not sight reading. The review section does make it more challenging in that the students have to choose the correct vowel from 5.
7. "Write big (letter)." Same a 5 except we use the upper case letters. Again good clear stroke order.
There is a font bar at the bottom of each target page with the target letter printed in different fonts. Very useful as we need to recognize so many different fonts these days.
There is built in review throughout the book so students should come away with all or at least most of the vocabulary. Whenever a student has to correct a mistake or fill in a piece of missing information, she can do so using the phonics she has learned in the book itself. I like that double consonants (bb, ck, dd etc.) are taken care of, I have posters,
found on BAH 3 CD and Switchit games
that cover these and are available from the author, but most books barely touch them. I also like the fact that most students will understand what is going on in the book without too much input from the teacher and they should be able to do most of the review activities independently and as homework if one prefers, though best do one or two units in class especially with the younger ones.
Though colorful, a new color for each unit, the book is easy on the eyes; I can't take glossy pages myself. Font size in the activity sections is not too big, as we often find in books for beginners. Young children generally have good eyesight and small hands so stubby pencils and a huge tracing font is not the best way to go. I should take a look at the rest of the book and http://www.elflearning.jp/ before starting, but I'm eager and almost ready to go.