Friday, September 1, 2006

September 2006: Sherry Martin, Uppercase & Lowercase Superstar



Meet Sherry Martin, author of the September 2006 America Learns Strategy of the Month.

Sherry is a second year AmeriCorps member with America Reads - Mississippi.  The smiles of her students in the picture you see speak worlds about Sherry's commitment and to her successful efforts in creating engaging learning opportunities for her students.


Sherry tutors in the Natchez-Adams School District, where she has been working for the past eight years.  Prior to joining AmeriCorps, she worked in the district's Parent Center, where she would help parents identify enrichment materials for their children.  Sherry's supervisor writes that Sherry is "an incredible tutor" who "tries different approaches to meet the needs of the students she tutors."

Sherry's strategy is below.  We hope her passion, creativity and smarts will benefit your students as well.

The Strategy

(Recognizing Uppercase & Lowercase Letters)

Created by: Sherry Martin, America Reads – Mississippi
(America Learns Network member since 2004)
Topic: Alphabet (Letter Recognition)
Grade Levels: Preschool & Kindergarten
Arrangements: Four or more students
- Two different colors of construction paper (one dark colored, one light)
- String or yarn
- Die cuts or large cutouts of the alphabet
- One hole puncher and one pair of scissors for you to use

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Situation: Some of my students were having a challenging time learning to recognize the letters of the alphabet. We sang the alphabet songs and pointed to alphabet letters on the wall, but those methods weren’t working for my students. I decided to try something new.
Step 1: Using die cuts of alphabet letters, I cut out large uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet on the dark colored construction paper (one letter on each page). (If you don't have die cuts or don't have time to use them, print and cut out the letters you need from this file.) If your students need to work on specific letters, be sure to include the uppercase and lowercase forms of those letters, along with some letters they already know.

Confirm that you made enough letters for all of the students in the group and that you created the uppercase and lowercase form of each selected letter.

Step 2: I then glued each letter cutout on a single page of the light-colored construction paper.
Step 3: I placed construction paper with the glued letters on the floor so that all the students could stand in front of them and see them. We then reviewed each letter's name and sounds.
Step 4: I then punched two holes at the top of each page and tied a string through the holes so that the students could wear the letters around their necks. Take a look at the picture below to see what this should look like.
Step 5: I then asked all of the students to stand up. I handed each one a letter and asked the students with the capital letters to walk around the room, search for, and then introduce themselves to the student with the corresponding lowercase letter. You can also ask the students with lowercase letters to look for the capitals, or just have all of students look for their match simultaneously.

When both students agreed that they matched, they would shake hands. You can also ask students who "meet" their match to say the name of the letter, to say the sounds that letter makes, and to come up with a word or two for that letter. Once they've done that, they can raise their hands and have you come over and listen to their letter sounds and words.

If the students determine that they do not match, ask them to say, "Nice to meet you, Letter __" to one another and then move on. Encourage these students to search the room together for their respective matches.

America Learns Note:
We recommend posting a large chart of the uppercase and lowercase letters you’re using in this activity so that students can reference it during the activity to determine which letters they’re supposed to look for and to confirm that they’ve “met” the right letter. As your students become more familiar with the alphabet through this and other activities, you can begin using this activity without the chart.

How Have You Addressed this Issue?

Please share your thoughts about this strategy and any messages you have for Sherry below.

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