My name is Michelle Hunt Jackson and I’ve been a teacher for over 15 years. Recently, I had the opportunity to leave the classroom to be a Reading Coach. However, I discovered that I missed the children, and I missed teaching. In fact, I had lost my passion.
This school year I returned to the classroom. I was placed in Kindergarten. This was quite scary, as I had never taught Kindergarten. All I could think is “can I teach these children to read?” These little five and six-year-old children walked in with varying degrees of knowledge of the alphabetic principle and phonological awareness. Some knew letters. Some knew letters and a few sounds. Some children had no understanding of letters at all. I had to have a game plan!
I decided I would use the balanced literacy approach, and I would use Open Court Sound Spelling Cards. I have been an advocate of Open Court Sound Spelling Cards since my very first year in the classroom. In fact, both of my own children were taught to read using those cards. I knew I had to be strategic and explicit in order to teach these students to read. As the quote says, ” Teaching reading IS rocket science!”
Thus, I decided I would teach the stories that go with the sound spelling cards, and we would do the chants for every card EVERY SINGLE day. I even played some of the games recommended to go with the cards. I must admit, this was a challenging task at first as I waited for the light bulb to come on for my students. But when it did, it was like an explosion.
By October, they were already reading decodable texts. I kept saying, “It’s all about learning those sounds! They must learn those sounds.” One day my daughters and I were sitting around, and I had a brainstorm of creating a remake of the song, “All About That Bass”, and so we did. I made the connection for the students by telling them that the song was about us learning to read using the wall cards. They loved it. We practiced for many months until we were ready to publish our song.
I am proud to say, as our song says, my students are readers, leaders, and thinkers now. As an educator, my hope is to remind us that we have the greatest job on earth! We play a key role in a child’s learning experience.
I hope this reminds us, revives us, and renews us to our great calling……EDUCATORS!
Michelle Jackson’s Kindergarten class video – I’m All About Those Sounds.