Do you have students that struggle with learning letters? Do they learn a letter, but it’s meaningless to them? It’s time to switch to a comprehensive letter of the day approach with your students. With this instructional system, students practice the letters more frequently and in a way that helps them generalize & create functional skills.
Research supports a letter of the day Instruction
We’ve all heard about & likely used the letter of the week system, but more recent research suggests that it may not be an effective practice. Research is more supportive of a letter of the day approach where instruction begins with letters that hold a personal connection with students.
This approach allows students a higher level of repetition and practice. It also allows you, the teacher, to see progress more clearly.
Introducing the daily letter
In my classroom, we introduce and talk about the letter of the day during morning meeting because it’s one of the first things we do each day. We look at the letter you are highlighting. We use letter posters and then go through the photo cards that have words associated with the letter.
While we talk about the letter of the day, we discuss these concepts:
- Letter name
- The sound associated with the letter
- Words that begin with the letter
- What do the uppercase & lowercase letter forms look like
Next, we work on tracing and writing the letter. Research supports this immediate varied instruction.
We then practice finding the letter within text. In order to be a functional skill, we immediately practice identifying the letter within words because that’s real life. Isolated letter identification isn’t.
To practice finding the letter within text, we start by using our sentence strips. As we continue through this cycle, we encourage students to help create sentences unique to our classroom and students.
Supporting Activities To spread across the day
We know our students need lots of repetition and varied practice to master a skill that they can use outside of instruction. Here are some of the activities we do each day to reinforce the letter of the day while building language skills.
We read through an interactive book about the letter each day. This allows us to highlight the letters within text as well as the letter sounds.
We also do a yes or no letter sort with both capital and lowercase versions.
My speech therapist and I also do a letter of the day language building activity where students work with words that start with today’s letter. We give them clues based on feature, function, and classes.
We also talk about the feature, function, and class of the photo cards for the letter of the day. I made question cards so paras can do this activity if I’m leading elsewhere.
FAQs for letter of the day instruction
Q: What order should I teach the letters in?
Research stresses to begin with letters that are personally relevant to students. For this reason, begin with the letters that occur the most in the students’ names. These letters will be more relevant for the students. Once you have gone through all the letters in the names of your students, do one of the remaining letters every day. After completing all the letters in the alphabet, continue going through the alphabet over and over.
Q: Should I still do letter of the day if I have students who know their letters?
Yes! You can always challenge those students using these materials. For example, ask students to write words that begin with the letter of the day rather than trace and write the letter. I use page protectors or laminate my writing sheets, so I just flip the sheet over and have the student write 3 to 5 words for the letter while the other students are tracing and writing the letter.
Q: What if I have non-verbal students?
No problem! For student with devices, I create a folder for each letter so they can participate in identifying the letter, a word that begins with the letter, yes or no for the letter sorts, etc. There are also letter flashcards in the letter of the day set so you can hold up or present 2 or more letters while asking a question like, “Where’s the letter C?”
Q: Do you have materials for task bins that reinforce the letter of the day?
Sure do! Here are some options for you… just click on the picture for more info.
FREEBIE ALERT!! These alphabet poke cards are in my free resource library. Click here or the photo below to join for free.
Q: Where can I read more about teaching letter concepts?
You know I have you covered! Click on any of the blog posts listed below for more info.