I definitely had a “wow” moment today with my student Awana. Awana came into our classroom in September with little knowledge and awareness of print, colors, numbers, or shapes. While Ms. Morrison, my aide, and I have been working closely with her, we did not see significant progress until this past week. But the great thing about her progress was that it came not just from our direct interactions with Awana, but also from Awana’s interactions with other students, her “fellow scholars.”
During afternoon choice time, I found Awana writing letters on whiteboards with a small group of her friends. I was first happy to see Awana with the whiteboard marker that came from her own kit, since, for the first month or so, she would confuse her name with others and, consequently, use materials from other students’ supply kits. Her friends had helped in this area by helping her find her supply kit numerous times.
Then, Awana and I had a conversation:
Ms. Pappas: What are you writing, Awana?
Awana: My friends.
MP: Oh, whose name is this? (pointing to the letter “S” Awana had written)
MP: And what about this letter. What is that?
MP: Whose name starts with the letter “A”?
A: My name.
MP: Who else?
As we discussed her writing, some of her friends began to take out note paper and envelopes. Awana quickly jumped up and said, “I’m going to write a letter.” She watched her friends and followed their lead. One of her friends reminded her to put the name on the envelope. They both dropped their letters in the mailbox and moved onto something else.
The placement of children’s names all around the room, from cubbies to classroom job charts, to mats, paid off. Moreover, Awana’s interactions with her friends generated excitement for writing letters that represent her friends’ names and writing a letter to her mom which reflected a growing awareness of how we use writing in everyday life.