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How to Write the Alphabet: Xx Zz !?.
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Writing Lesson Plan: Xx Zz !?.
Whether you are teaching young students to write in their native tongue, or teaching the English alphabet to your English learning students, this lesson can help you.
Lesson Target: Beginners at reading and writing the English alphabet
Prior Lessons Needed: Letters sitarmgnubedcohfvpljykqw. Basically every other letter of the alphabet. This is the final worksheet for introducing the English alphabet. For the first lesson covering Ss Ii Tt, go here. For how to teach the alphabet, go here.
Lesson Focus: writing and reading
- Learn letters: Xx, Zz
- Learn punctuation: !?.
- Practice writing with writing worksheet
- Practice reading with story
Note: Pay attention to the 'prior knowledge'. While each writing worksheet can stand alone, the reading lesson builds on previously learned letters. As this worksheet is meant to be done last, it is especially important that your students have some prior reading knowledge, or the reading section will only be usable to identify the target letters and punctuation.
Learning the Letters: Xx Zz
Even if you had been teaching your students the alphabet in order, x and z are often taught last. They are some of the rarer letters so it makes sense to have them at the end. Teach the letters as you have taught all the letters: make sure your students can identify the letters' names, sounds, and whether it is upper or lower case.
Z has an added difficulty not present in the other letters: it has two different names. In American English, that letter is called 'zee'. In British English, it is called 'zed'. Which version you wish to teach is up to you. Z's sound is also difficult for some learners as it does not occur in all languages. Korean speakers, for instance, will not know how to make the z sound and will need to be taught. They are often told it is similar to 'j', and it does sound similar, but the way it is formed is closer to 's'. I advise getting your students to hiss, then say 'uh' and then attempt zzz by putting the sounds together. Another way to help (and to help general English pronunciation' is to write some 's' words that naturally have the 's' sound like a z: -ds, -bs or -ns -ves words all have s's that sound like z's.
X has two sounds and both should be taught. Teach by showing the x's location in a word; it sounds like a z at the front and like 'ks' in the middle or end. You might write some nonsense words like 'ax, xa; ex, xe, ix, xi' and have your students practicing 'reading' these words by following the normal pronunciation rules. Note that if your students had trouble pronouncing z, the front x will of course give them the same trouble.
Learning the Punctuation: !?.
This lesson is meant to introduce how to write the punctuation. You can have a lesson fully devoted to punctuation later and so it is up to you how fully you teach each symbol or if you make sure your students know the names 'exclamation mark, question mark and period (or full stop, as it is called in British English). You can also just give their names but not expect your students to remember the names later, you can simply explain they go on the end of sentences, or you can not explain them at all but just have your students practice writing them. This is simply an introduction to the punctuation marks. Teach them fully or not at all, depending upon the time you have for teaching and how well your students have advanced in reading and writing already.
You can find a copy of the writing worksheet here. To use it, simply print the worksheet and give it to your students. You should be able to print by right clicking with your mouse on the document and selecting 'print' or there may possible be a print icon at the top of the page. The worksheet includes writing practice for each of the letters, instructions on how to write the letters, and a picture illustrating a word that begins with each letter. It also contains writing practice for the punctuation marks: !?. .
Reading Xx Zz !?.
This reading lesson builds on already learned letters: S I T A R M G N U B E D C O H F V P L J Y K Q W. Basically, every letter of the alphabet should now be known by your students. It can also stand alone but your students will not be able to read any words in this story on their own unless you have already taught them some other letters or sight words.
You can find the story worksheet here.
There are two ways to use the story worksheet:
- Have your students find and identify the target letters. You can also use this as review time and have your students identify previously learned letters. I advise against reviewing every letter, and save the big alphabet review for their next lesson. Last lesson's letters and a few from earlier should be enough to refresh memories without becoming tedious. Make a special note of similar letters to the target, like S or t.
- Pre-teach a few of the words, particularly words that don't follow the normal rules ('goes' has an s that sounds like z, as does says and it doesn't sound like 'say', 'what' has a silent h, xenoceratops is a long word with a c that sounds like s). Pre-teaching doesn't have to mean you tell them the word; write the words on the board or point to words in the story and ask your students to try reading them first. Don't have a picture of a fox or lizard? The story does; use it. Before you read the story, read the title together. Look at the pictures. Ask your students what the story is about. You can even throw in new or old vocabulary words that are related to the story, like 'cage' or 'lion'.
- Read the story together. By this point, there is not a single letter used that your students should not know. This doesn't mean they will be able to read the entire story on their own. Words that don't follow the normal rules or that have sound combinations you haven't taught yet (like 'th') might give your students trouble. It is up to you whether you continue in the previous method by reading those words for your students, or whether you pre-teach them and encourage your students to read this entire story all alone.
You can read the story through first and then let them read, or you can read as a group, or you can allow your students to take turns. You can also read with individual students while the others are doing other work, like the writing worksheet, with the student reading what he or she can and you helping, both by encouraging the student to sound out words that follow the regular rules, or by reading yourself the words that do not.
- If you have explained the function of punctuation marks, encourage your students to take note of them in the story. Is there an exclamation mark? Shout the sentence! Is there a question mark? Make sure you sound like you're asking a question.
Now that your students know Xx Zz !?., what's next? First, review the alphabet! Make sure your students still remember the earlier lessons. Perhaps give them the earlier reading assignments and let them see how much better they are at reading. And what then? It's time to start on sound combinations: sh, th, ch, ee, ea, ar, er, review -ing and silent e, -gh, wh, ai, ion, oa, oo.
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