Well, hi there sweet sunshine. It is 4:00 AM, I have my strongest brew of coffee, but I’m smiling this morning and grateful to be able to encourage you, to give you strategies that you can use to further your joy in the classroom. And that deepens your impact on your students and their futures. Today I’m talking about literacy. I’ll be specifically sharing with you a new product that I’ve created for spelling practice.
I have cracked the code to absolutely transform spelling word practice in the classroom. It used to be something that I dreaded. It was boring. I would say the words and the kids would write them sort of like a repeat spelling test every single day.
But I cracked the code. And not only am I going to share this secret strategy with you, I have to provide my most earnest and wonderful teacher friends with a free resource that you cannot find anywhere else. So if you’re like me, and you’re on the bus of boring spelling word practice that your kids don’t enjoy, that isn’t keeping them engaged, that takes too much of your time each day, and you want something that is quick, effective and engaging, this is for you.
Story Time: My Walkthrough Observation
A couple of weeks ago, I had a formal walkthrough by the people who work at the school board. These walkthroughs are all about student engagement. The tool that they use to give me my grade has nothing about me or what I’m doing. It’s all about what the students are doing during this short, but stressful, observation.
So here I am, oh my goodness, these people are coming in my classroom this morning during my routine spelling practice, sight word practice, phonics, and things that are everyday routines for me. I don’t budge on that, because my student behaviors could get out of hand if I plan some other fun activity just for this purpose.
Just a general piece of advice. This has always served me well. It may seem that our observers need to see something out of the ordinary, but truly they do not. They look at how effective your classroom is running and how engaged your students are. Routines are very engaging.
The walk through turns out to be during my very first morning routines. Now thankfully, before this observation, I had already been tweaking my spelling practice because I knew it was boring and not very engaging to my class. So weeks ahead, and not even because of the observation, I had been designing a little spelling practice game.
My goal was not just to have my students write their words each day, but for them to actually love writing those words and look forward to that moment. That seems impossible, doesn’t it?
Inspiration From Phast Phonics Routine
I got an idea, and it came to me during our Phast Phonics writing practice. Students are racing to write words based on a certain phonics skill. So for example, my students just finished up CVC words, and we are working on magic e words now.
We do that every single day and the students eat it up. They get to choose a racer, they get to write those words, they get a score out of ten. And also, they get a quick brain break that I let one student choose each day, at the very end of the routine. It takes less than 10 minutes, and it’s just a perfect use of that time.
So while we were doing Phast Phonics, I thought, what if I could replicate this kind of dynamic with our spelling word practice. I wanted to have that same love for writing those words with these spelling lists that I send home each week. So the thing about student engagement is it’s actually very easy if we just get down to what it is that make kids tick. What is it that gets their interests?
Dr. Jean put it best during a conference that I did with her. She said, “To catch a rabbit, you need a rabbit trap. To catch a student, you need a student trap.”
You know how kids are, they love silly things like babies and zombies and ninjas, and all of those little character things. That’s a big deal to kids, which is why the management idea of character points works really well. I’ve done some episodes about management strategies including character points. You can go back to this POST where I talked about character points during seamless transitions in the classroom.
Introducing Beat the Baby Spelling Word Practice
So I came up with Beat the Baby. I wanted my students to have the racing theme with the sounds and the imagery that really engages them. And so I mimicked Phast Phonics with a baby theme.
Here’s how it works. There’s a PowerPoint presentation, and I do type my words in for students to check their work after writing each word, that way they have a means to self correct. I say the word, and then a baby starts crawling across the screen towards its bottle. Every kid went bonkers whenever I first introduced Beat the Baby. This rabbit trap absolutely transformed our spelling word practice, because my students literally beg me to play Beat the Baby more than once a day.
My Students LOVE Beat the Baby Spelling Practice
But I’ve got something even better for you. During my observation while we’re doing our little morning routines, the observers are in the back of my classroom. One of my kids raised their hand and said, “Mrs. Mullins, is it time to do our spelling work? Is it time to Beat the Baby?”
Now this happens on a daily basis because they love it that much. But is there anything more dreamy than having your kids ask you to write their spelling words during a formal observation?
And my students are literally giddy about writing those words. They are so engaged. They want to be faster than that baby. That way at the end of the process, they get to choose their reward. They can cry like a baby, laugh like a baby, or crawl like a baby for about 15 seconds. And is it hard to deal with that management wise for those 15 seconds? Yes, because I’m a perfectionist. And students being loud is not my thing. But I remember that they’ve earned this reward because they worked so hard during the game.
I love this because it is such an easy routine. I literally type my spelling words into this document and play the presentation. It’s so cute. It’s so much fun. So Beat the Baby is absolutely one of my favorite parts of the day. And it helped me during the observation. The people from the board were so impressed with everything going on in the routine, the easy transitions, the absolutely minimal amount of time that was wasted between switching in these activities. They also noted that they loved the movement involved at the end of the process. My students were smiling and happy, and you couldn’t beat it. I hate to brag, but I have to let you know in case you need something like this in your life to spice up your spelling word practice.
My Gift to You
So if you’re a longtime reader here, you know that I’m not really comfortable selling you things. I don’t come on my podcast and send you to a lot of links to buy things from me, because it makes me feel really icky. And I know you’re a teacher just like me only looking to improve your classroom. So I felt the need to provide a gift that is only free to my blog post followers and podcast listeners, because I want you to feel the effects of this sort of strategy during your spelling word practice. Now I did use spelling words as the example, but this strategy can be used with any word. Maybe you want your students to write their sight words every day or answer verbal math equations. Whatever you can dictate and expect your students to write, this product can be used for it.
Since it is the holidays and you have just a couple weeks left of teaching, I want to give you Beat the Baby, the full product, absolutely free. It is not free anywhere else.
It’s a Growing Bundle
Now before I tell you how to get it, I want you to know that this is part of a growing bundle. Your students will love Beat the Baby, but eventually they can lose interest and they may need an upgrade to Beat the Granny, Beat the Pirate, Beat the Santa Claus at Christmas time. So if you get this freebie and you need more of this in your classroom, then you need to follow the link to check out the growing bundle.
The wonderful thing about a growing bundle is if you catch it early, you’re going to get a lot of free resources because you’re going to pay the before it’s finished price. I’m still working to create these other versions of Beat the Baby. And what that means is you can benefit from that by getting a great price on the whole bundle.
How to Get Beat the Baby Spelling Word Practice Routine
Just send me an email to toni @ teachertoni.com. And in the subject line say, “Beat the Baby.” But remember, if you love Beat the Baby and your kids love it, try so hard to get in on the growing bundle price because that will not be available for very long. And also let me know what you think. It’s absolutely amazing when I can really truly connect with you on a personal level. So let me know what you think and how your students react.
I’m just so excited for your students to get the opportunity to try this strategy. And your students more than likely will ask you, “Teacher, when is it time for us to do our spelling?”
Go Make a Difference!
Alrighty dear friend, I hope you leave here feeling encouraged, uplifted, and joyful about your career as an incredible difference maker. If this is totally your jam, you could contact me and let me know that you’re interested in a free 30 minute one on one coaching session. I have a few spots available. If you feel like you need some coaching to continue in your joy, don’t hesitate. Send me an email and let me know you are interested in a free 30 minute session. I would love to talk to you for 30 minutes, no obligations, just two teachers talking about what is stressing you, what is giving you issues, what can I help you with personally to increase your joy as a teacher? Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
Go have a wonderful rest of your day and a wonderful holiday season coming up. Enjoy this time. We’ll never ever ever get it back. And as always, in the meantime until we meet again, go make a difference, teacher friend.