Teaching how to say and Write Words to Intermediate Grade Elementary Students (4-6) within a Content Literacy Program
Timothy G. Weih, Ph.D.
University of Northern Iowa, USA
This article covers teaching how to say and write words, i.e., phonics and spelling, to intermediate grade, elementary students (4-6) within a content literacy program, meaning a program that includes instruction in reading, writing (which includes spelling), listening, speaking (which includes oral reading and discussion), viewing, and presenting INFUSED into the subject areas of science, social studies, math, language arts, and literature.
Infusing Word Instruction into the Subject Areas
Intermediate grade, elementary teachers teach their students how to say key words, i.e., words that represent important concepts and ideas in the content subject areas, and how to write key words accurately, i.e., spell words, through content literacy strategy lesson plans aimed at saying and writing words.
These lesson plans are different than the ones aimed at learning vocabulary, which are more focused on learning word meanings, but that is not to say that the two cannot be taught in concert with each other.
However, this article has a focus on teaching students how to say (orally speak) and write key words.
Teaching how to say and Write key Words
The best way that teachers can tell if their elementary students can read key words is to have them say those words aloud, and the best way teachers can tell if students know how to spell those key words is to have them write them.
Teaching elementary students how to say words aloud involves teaching the phonics rules and principles (see Weih, 2015a), and teaching them how to write words involves teaching the rules and principles of spelling (see Weih, 2015a).
This present article on how to teach students to say and write words is for the teaching of students in the intermediate elementary grades, who by most accounts, already know how to read words both orally and silently, and already know how to compose, or write text, and know foundational spelling rules and principles for writing many words accurately.
Both these areas of instruction need to continue into the intermediate elementary grades in order for students to grow in their abilities of learning how to say and write key words.
Following building the preliminary, prerequisite elementary literacy content and student skill development, teachers implement best practices for teaching intermediate grade students how to say and write key words from the content areas, some of which are covered in the following sections.
Best Practices for Teaching Intermediate Grade Students how to say and Write key Words from the Content Subject Areas
It is best practice for teachers to teach their students literacy strategies within the context of the reading materials that they are having students read. In addition, students need to be taught word learning strategies that they will be able to apply in future reading situations. Following are some important guidelines to follow:
• Teach strategy lessons on the principles, patterns, or rules that students need to learn for the sake of saying the words aloud.
• Teach strategy lessons on the principles, patterns, or rules that students need to learn in order to accurately write the key words.
• Plan within the strategy lessons lots of opportunities for students to practice the new skills with each other during small group Guided Practice and Checking for Understanding phases of strategy lessons (see Weih, 2015b)
• Plan and deliver for each new chapter, section, or lesson in the content area texts as well as novels, a systematic approach for elementary students to follow in learning how to say and write the new, key words that they will be reading in the text.
This systematic approach is covered in the next section.
Systematic Approach for Teaching Key Words to Students before Reading Events
When teachers teach to their students how to say and write the key words contained in content subject area texts and novels prior to students reading them on their own, teachers insure more students are ready to learn the main ideas and concepts contained within the text, thus, reading comprehension can be fostered and enhanced.
Teachers first study the text, select the key words, type the key words into a document, and then show the students the key words on the classroom screen or some other means of insuring that all students can view the words at the same time.
Second, the teacher says each word aloud while pointing to it.
Third, the teacher says each word again while pointing to it, and this time the students repeat the word aloud, chorally, after the teacher says it.
Fourth, the students write the words into a Word Journal that has been titled with the chapter, section, or lesson number of the text that they are about to read. While they write, they say the words in whisper voices to themselves, and the teacher circulates among the students checking on the writing and the pronunciation of the words and teaching individual students as necessary.
Fifth, after the students have written the words into their journals, they write each word again three times each, on a practice piece of paper while saying each word in whisper voices.
If each student has a computer, they could type each word into an electronic word journal titled with the chapter, section, or lesson number of the text that they are about to read, AFTER they have done the physical handwriting parts.
The above outlined approach constitutes a systematic method for teaching how to say and write key words to intermediate grade students, but it should not stop at this point, see the next section.
Teaching Students how to say and Write Words through Strategy Lessons
Teachers should follow up the systematic method for teaching key words to their elementary students that was presented in the previous section with content literacy strategy lessons (see Weih, 2015b).
Many such strategy lessons are available online through Google searches. Once these are located, then teachers can use the information to create, develop, and design their own strategy lessons using the format covered in Weih (2015b).
For the sake of giving teachers some guidance in doing their online research into these strategies, I have included below some strategy lesson titles to apply into a search:
• Word Sorts
• Word Ladders
• Word Walls (with using the alphabet for categorizing the words)
• Alphabet Books
• Making Words
• Hangman (game)
• UpWords (game)
• Quizno (game)
• Word Searches
• Wheel of Fortune
Playing educational games such as some of the ones listed above, can be very engaging for elementary students and helps them to not only learn the words, but also involves them in learning social skills and enhances their discussion abilities.
This article covered teaching how to say and write words, i.e., phonics and spelling, to intermediate grade, elementary students within a content literacy program, i.e., a program that includes instruction in reading, writing (which includes spelling), listening, speaking (which includes oral reading and discussion), viewing, and presenting INFUSED into the subject areas of science, social studies, math, language arts, and literature.
The emphasis on instructing children how to say and write new words should begin in the early, primary grades and continue into the intermediate elementary grades for the sake of increasing students' oral reading fluency and silent reading comprehension.
Weih, T. G. (2015a). Literature-Based Phonics Instruction for Grades K-3. Saching.com.
Weih, T. G. (2015b). Content Literacy Curriculum and Instructional Program for Grades K-6.
For Further Reading see the Following References
Weih, T. G. (2015). Oral reading fluency instruction for grades K-3. Saching.com.
Weih, T.G. (2015). Literature-Based Content Writing Instruction for Grades K-3. Saching.com.
Copyright © 2018 Timothy G. Weih, Ph.D.
University of Northern Iowa, USA
About Author / Additional Info:
Timothy G. Weih is an associate professor of education at the University of Northern Iowa, USA, and teaches elementary teaching methods courses.