This is going to be a bit of a follow up to my blog about my Ball Words and Sight Word Fluency System post that I did last week. Since I’ve had so many questions regarding my Ball Words, I thought I’d try and hit some of the most frequent questions here. So hang on and hopefully I’ll get it all covered. If you have ideas or other questions, please feel free to chime in with a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Do you have a set of each dolch word list on rings for each student in your classroom? Is there a list that goes home letting parents know which words you are working on? How do you introduce them?
Included in the set is also a ‘take home’ list of words for you to print off for your students. My students are so independent with this system that as soon as they pass a level, they help themselves to the next list and stick it in their mailbox for home.
When do your students get assessed and what criteria do you have for passing?
Typically, a student needs to be able to recognize the word and name it with ease and without sounding it out (out loud-sometimes I can see them sounding it out in their head and I give it to them) within several seconds. These words are meant to be fluent so I don’t let them sit and ponder over them too much. Now that being said, ‘fair does not mean equal.’ The first day of school, one of my little honeys rattled off all 220 words. BooM!!! Just like that. So his challenge was to be able to spell each of the words. (He just passed beachball ‘spelling’ words this week. The key is to make sure everyone is challenged but also that everyone is able to find and feel success. I usually assess during my rest time or whenever there is a minute or two available to do it.
How do you organize the games and other activities that go along with the set?
How do you display your ball word posters?
I made my ballword posters a couple of years ago with my Silhouette Portrait paper cutter. I have the little Silhouette which I LOVE LOVE LOVE, but I hope to upgrade to the larger one someday.
I have another example from Heather at Mrs. Shelton’s Kindergarten too.
I think it can really be anything you want. My next door neighbor teacher just posts up a piece of paper that says Baseball Champs and lets the kids sign it as they pass.
What do you do if you have struggling students who even with extra help you are afraid will never pass?
I have been fortunate enough that when I say all students pass ball words, all students really have passed them in my class in the past but I also understand it is unrealistic to think this would happen in every class every time. You have to find ways to let your class find success. I spend alot of time each year talking about the difference between what is fair and what is equal. For kindergarteners, a great activity to illustrate this is the band-aid activity.
In any case, you may decide one student gets unlimited time to say the words, another student might only have to do half. You have to know your students and know what you need to do to make the activity challenging but within their reach to be successful. You could even say, every month a student who passes a goal gets to be part of a celebration. That way regardless of the goal, anyone who has worked hard gets to celebrate. I would never have a celebration and NOT include a child. But that’s just my personal opinion.
I think you will find with ball words, it kind of takes on a life of its own. It starts out slow but once students get the hang of reading words and figuring out what they need to do to practice and master them, it snowballs. Everyday, I’m making new certificates for students who have passed a new level. I seriously can’t catch up but it’s a good problem to have.
What comes after Ball Words?
What comes after ball words is Speed Readers, but I’m not quite ready to show them to you yet. Be on the look out though. It’s another system I’ve used in my class for several years but I want to pretty it up for you a bit before I unveil it.
If you have any other questions about Ball Words, feel free to leave me a comment below. I’m anxious to hear how it’s going for you.