When I started doing ‘Ball Words‘ (my Dolch word mastery system) four years ago, I ran into a very good problem to have. My kinders that were able to master all 220 Dolch words were NOT satisfied with ‘now you’re done.’ They wanted more. They wanted more of a challenge. They weren’t even close to being done. So I started Speed Readers. I’m so glad I did, because as of today, I have 10 kinders who have already mastered all 220 Dolch words, and I have to keep them challenged.
My class back when I started all this was 20 boys and 4 girls. They were on the go all the time. Ball Words were a great motivator for all of them, even the girls, and I knew I needed something else that would be just as motivating, engaging and hold their interest. So I placed Dolch word phrases on a big poster with different kinds of transportation for each level this time. It wasn’t very user friendly, so I quickly switched back to the ring system that worked so well with ball words. That first year after ditching my great transportation posters halfway, I simply wrote the phrases on sentences strips and progress was tracked in a simple notebook. Not very pretty, but it worked. I kept the same kind of games, certificates and poster idea to keep things consistent. Luckily, the system has progressively evolved and has become slicker over the last couple of years and it really runs itself.
Like ball words, there are 11 levels of phrases and I placed 16 phrases on each level (if you would like to add more you can because the unit includes some editable cards to add your own if you choose). Each level is associated with a different type of transportation. From the slower skateboard to the eventually top speed rocket.
These are Dolch words that they have already mastered so they should be very fluent in reading these phrases, but what I have found is that they need that constant practice and re-familiarization with the words to keep them flowing easily . . .fluently. I ask my students to read each phrase, no self-correcting, no mistakes . . . all within one minute. It seems easy to them at first until they correct themselves that first time and it’s ‘game over.’ But they soon get the idea of really knowing what they are reading by practicing their speed and familiarity with reading the phrases.
I give them opportunities to practice with some games that go along with the rings and phrases.
Memory Match and other activities for promoting fluency with these phrases. Then, of course, there are editable certificates of achievement for each level
and I included some editable pieces that you can use to make posters.
Finally, I don’t use that old notebook anymore to track progress. It’s all in this simple, editable recording sheet.
So if you’re finding your kiddos are going gang busters with ball words (I have to tell you…we’re having our basketball party this week …that’s a minimum of 60 words for every kinder in my class), then you might want to think about the next step.