Adventures in Literacy Land: Nonsense Words

Showing posts with label Nonsense Words. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nonsense Words. Show all posts

Putting It All Together

Can you believe spring is here and the end of the school year (for me) is in sight?!  It amazes me each year how quickly it goes.  I love the end of the year because it is a time to look at all the growth that has been made. 

But along with analyzing all of the growth, spring is an important time for me to reflect on my teaching.  This is the time of year that I begin to start thinking and planning for the changes that I want to make for the following school year.  This is such an important part of job because we are learning right along with our students.  Our teaching changes with the new knowledge that we gain, the students that we work with, and with new challenges that arise.

Last March I wrote about how my teammate, Karen, and I make nonsense words "real" in our classroom.

Over the course of this school year, Karen and I have used this technique with our guided reading groups.  As we teach, I can hear her conversations with her students and she can hear mine.  Through this unintentional listening our teaching of nonsense words evolved a little.  I realized that we were doing everything that we could to break down a "big" word but then working just as hard to put it all back together.  We wanted needed our students to really SEE the connections that we were trying to make.  This was born...

When looking at this sheet, you can see that it starts with nonsense words.  Those nonsense words become larger, 2-sylalble words.  Those 2-syllable words are in phrases.  Those phrases are found in a paragraph.
We wanted to start small but show them how all these parts come together and can be found in a paragraph.

As soon as I made it, I tried it out.  Would they make the connection?

I gave them one colored marker and (as you can see above) we used that same color all the way down the page.  Then we did this process again with a different color.

My guided reading groups loved it and really did make the connections.  My goal will be to do these sheets earlier next year now that I can see the impact that they have.

I hope that you can use these with your students and that they will help students understand the importance of a nonsense word and how often we really do use them when we are reading "bigger" words.  You can grab a free copy of these below:

Are there any other ways that you help students to "put it all together?"


Helping to Make Nonsense Words "Real"

Nonsense words...for a long time I just asked why?  Why do words like wez, tix, pum, or sek need to be a part of my life?  Why do I have to complete assessments to determine if students can read these words?  Why do these fake words frustrate me!?

But as I gained more teaching experience, worked with more and more struggling readers, observed others, had many professional conversations, my outlook changed.  I realized that when using nonsense word assessments, I can analyze how that particular student is decoding.  I started to see that these nonsense words are inside larger words and if they can read these nonsense words, it is going to help them read the multi syllabic words.

I have to admit, this was an important step in my teaching.  FINALLY! There is a purpose!   I understood how these nonsense words related to my teaching.  But that led to another can I make these nonsense words more meaningful to my students?  After some brainstorming sessions, my teaching-mate and I came up with some ways!

Analyzing  how a particular student is decoding during a nonsense word progress monitoring helps me to determine how I need to change my interventions.
Here are some examples:

  • student can say all three sounds but can not blend them together
  • student can say all three sounds but the first sound is left out when blended together
  • student can say the three sounds but when blending, vowel sound is incorrect
  • student consistently says certain sounds incorrectly
  • student can successfully blend all three sounds but it is very slow
  • student can successfully say the nonsense words quickly and accurately

Once the assessment is complete, the student and I have a quick conversation about what we can work on.  Here are some things that have come from those conversations:

  • For one student this year, we noticed that he was getting confused on the letters b and d.  He was using a resource on the wall but needed a quicker reference.  So we put a post-it in front of him at the guided reading table with the letters "Bb   Dd" on it.  After a few weeks, the student no longer needed this resource.
  • Another student could say the three sounds but could not accurately put those together.  So we discussed this and came up with some strategies to help her.  I noticed her using these strategies when she was reading words in isolation and in text.  YES!

It is really important for our students to realize that nonsense words are found in multi syllabic or "bigger" words.  My teaching partner made these cards to help show our students the nonsense words inside the "bigger" word. (I posted more about it HERE)

I also created some sheets to help them look for the nonsense words or "smaller" parts.  They will get the highlighted sheet first so that the nonsense words stand out to their little eyes quickly.  Then I can take this intervention away so they can see those parts on their own.

I also realized that my students needed to understand that these nonsense words or "smaller" parts can belong in more than just one word.  Some of them would read the first part of the word and shout out what they thought it was, such as "comic" even though it was the word "comet."  They were not looking through the whole word.

Because of this I made up more cards (like the ones above) that had several of the same nonsense words embedded in them.  This forced them to look through the whole word. Here are some examples of those words:
Establishing purpose for the lessons, games, and assessments that we do in the classroom has a strong impact on our students.  It helps them to take more ownership over their own learning.  Thankfully, I discovered the purpose in nonsense words and could make my lessons and assessments more meaningful for my students.

If you would like to use these nonsense word sheets, please click on the image below.