There are certain things that our teaching lives can never be without. The photos in this section feature our favorite tools and suggestions for using them.
We LOVE highlighting tape! It comes in many different colors and we have found countless uses for it in our reading and writing workshops. We use it to highlight sight words, letter sounds, commonly misspelled words, punctuation, words that children often mispronounce, just to name a few.
Cover Up Tape
Another great tool for interactive writing is Post-It Labeling and Cover-Up Tape. In our classrooms, it goes by a few different names, among them “boo-boo tape” and “oops tape.” No matter what we call it, the purpose is always the same: whenever we are writing something that will become part of our classroom landscape, we are careful to make sure that it is spelled correctly and follows all of the conventions of print. When we make a mistake, we cover it up and start again. It beats throwing the whole paper away every time we make an error!
In this picture, you can see that our kindergartners had some trouble writing “in the summer.” No worries. We covered up the mistakes with tape, wrote over top of what was already there, and kept right on going!
Wondering what this is and what it’s doing on a teaching website? It is true, at first glance, it looks more like something a plumber would need than a teacher, but in fact, this is the Home Depot version of the whisper phone.
During the early stages of reading development, young readers need to hear what they are reading in order to fully integrate the processes involved in making meaning. Reading aloud and subvocalization can make for a distracting reading environment. When children read softly into a whisper phone, their voices are amplified thereby feeding their need to hear what is being read while diminishing the overall volume in the classroom. Many companies commercially produce whisper phones and they retail anywhere from $6-$10. We have found that pvc piping does the same job for a fraction of the cost!
"Cool Tools for Editing" Kits
“Highlighters and colored pens?” you ask. We all use those in our classrooms for a number of different purposes. However, what you see here are not ordinary colored pens and markers. They are “Cool Tools for Editing” kits.
After years of giving students editing checklists and having them returned with everything checked off and nothing changed on the draft, we realized there was a problem inherent in the editing checklist. To help students be more thoughtful about editing, we created these kits. Now, whenever students edit, they use a different color to search for different problems:
Red: Capital Letters
Yellow: Spelling Errors
Blue: Grammar Focus
These colors remain consistent throughout the school year and when students hand in their papers and say, “I’m done,” the teacher can quickly assess whether students have checked carefully. When we glance at the paper and notice there are still several spelling errors, we say, “I think you need to take out your yellow highlighter. I see there are still several misspelled words.” We have observed that the mere act of holding each color in their hands forces children to think about each of convention a bit more thoroughly than when all they had to do was complete a checklist.
Download this lesson plan: Using cool tools to edit for capital letters, end punctuation, spelling, and verb agreement