No More Letter of the Week?

For more than five years, I taught a letter per week and sometimes every other week. That is just what we did at my former campus, and so did all the other Pre-K classrooms across that school district. I taught letter “Mm” and read stories about monsters, moose, mice and we made crafts based on the “Mm” words we were learning. The students tasted muffins and they decorated letter Mm. This is the letter of the week method. Well, it turns out that this is not the best way to teach children the letter names and sounds. Luckily, I was given the opportunity to use the book “No More Letter of the Week” in my Kindergarten classroom. After using this program for teaching letters, for only one school year, I am sold! I love this method so much and it is more fun for both me and my students. Recently, I began searching for the reasons and research behind the effectiveness of “No More Letter of the Week.”

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I came across many articles found at a fellow teacher’s blog: http://www.pre-kpages.com/lotw/It turns out that she embarked on her own research as well. Here is the amazing research:

“Arguments for Moving Away From LOTW

  • Fluent letter recognition is one of the (if not THE) predictors of reading success (Adams, 1990).
  • Removing letters from their meaningful context removes the meaning and purpose from the letter.
  • Children who are taught letters in isolation have difficulty placing that information into literacy activities (Wood and McLeMore, 2001).
  • It is more meaningful to introduce letters as they become meaningful to the students.
  • Just because you and I were taught with the LOTW many years ago does not mean it is the BEST way to teach letters. Remember the Virginia Slims saying “We’ve come a long way baby”? Well, we have come a long way in education and current research supports teaching letters in context and not in isolation.
  • Teaching with LOTW slows readers down, yet it’s too fast for others, it doesn’t meet the needs of all learners and there is no room for differentiation.
  • The students who struggle the most with learning the letters are the ones who are least helped by teaching letters in isolation. They need something to help them make connections – isolating letters doesn’t do that.”

Teaching letters without focusing on a different letter each week

NMLOTW (No More Letter of the Week) teaches the sounds of letters within context of rhymes and motions. Children are selected to be a “Letter Expert” for each letter of the alphabet. The letter expert reads a book from her teacher, which is on her reading level, but contains words with the “special letter.” The letter expert practices the book at home and then reads it to the class. A sentence from the book is then written on pieces of sentence strips and the class works together to put the sentence back together again. The special letter is emphasized while the student teaches everyone about her expert letter. She brings in items beginning with her letter and she also brings in a large letter that is decorated with print and cut-outs from magazines that contain words beginning with the special letter. A special bulletin board or wall is set up by the teacher to display each letter. If the wall is at student level, it can be utilized by the children to reread the sentences using pointers. Their book can also be placed in the letter square. This is a great center, as the letter’s continue being added.

This is a very informative article, that is well worth reading: “N is for Nonsensical” by Dr. Susan B. Neuman http://www-personal.umich.edu/~sbneuman/pdf/nisfornonsense.pdf

20110815-113628.jpg This is the “Reading Wall.” This is the set-up part, before the student use it. I used painters tape on my second white board, to section off the 26 sections (plus 1). When each letter is introduced in the curriculum, one child will be the “Letter Expert,” and take home a large cut-out letter, an emergent reader book (I use little books from the Pearson Reading Street curriculum). Also, inside of the take home bag is a sentence from the book that contains a word beginning with the letter expert letter.

Here is the parent letter that I send home in the take-home bag: Letter expert parent letter

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14 comments

    1. I am glad that you found what you are looking for! As for where I got my information from….I researched the topic using the program and book “No More Letter of the Week.” I also used the program myself and interviewed other teachers that used it, to get first hand information from them. Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words!

      1. I have used “No More Letter of the Week” for many years – I like your photos – about how big are the spaces you use? Are those sticky notes with the words from the sentences – I use cardstock strips and the stickies wouldn’t take as much room! Also, I notice the use of the larger cut-out letters in each square – do students locate and affix pics of items beginning with the letter? Do you use the student’s picture as part of the square? So many questions – I’m always trying to tweak and improve my NMLOTW program!

      2. Hi Cindy,
        Thank you for your kind words! Yes, I used sticky notes for the upper left hand letters, but not for the sentence. I just cut up cardstock and used ticky-tack-like you. One year, I wrote the sentences on sentence strips, but found that it took up too much room also. On the large cut-out letters, students did affix pictures and items to them. I sent home a large ziploc bag with the student who would be the letter expert for that letter. I sent it home the weekend before I introduced the new letter, the following week (according to our school’s mandated curriculum). The bag had the letter, the book, and the cut-up sentence pieces. Their homework was to glue photo’s, words and/or objects to the letter. One year, I did use the students picture as part of the square. But I found that it is not necessary, as the children knew who the letter expert for each letter was. However, I would forget-so using the pictures was more for me! I hope this helped. Don’t hesitate to ask anything else! Have a super star school year!

  1. My daughter’s school uses this program and we will be starting in fall; however, I am unsure of how to actually implement the program….how/when do you introduce each new letter? Is it one every day or ?????

    1. Hello-If you can get your hands on the book “No More Letter of the Week,” it explains everything step-by-step. I like introducing 1 letter a week, however due to our school’s Curriculum schedule, I had to introduce 2 letters a week several times.

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    1. Help! Please! It is December, and my first year back in K. I have been in 1st for the last 6 years. All of my coworkers use the LOTW and I know (I just know) it is not effective, however what did I do? I did what they did and I just can’t anymore. Is it too late for me to start this now? Thank you. Steph

      CrazyaboutFirstButLovinK

      1. Hi Stephanie,
        I have taught letters in so many ways and what I have found is that every child truly learns different no matter which curriculum you use or how you present it. I do prefer introducing 2 letters per week though. I am actually teaching Kindergarten/Special Ed./Self-Contained this year…..I am not teaching one letter per week and I am not following the “No More Letter of the Week” book, because it is simply not appropriate (for various reasons). However, most of my students have mastered their letter naming and sounds! What I am doing this year is using more songs via You Tube. “Have Fun Learning” is a channel that makes very catchy songs where the children see the letter and sing along to learn it and its sound. At the same time they read words with that focus letter and see pictures of those words. So, I would encourage you to check that out, and perhaps let students who do not know their letters yet, to listen to those video’s on the computer station or possibly on a Smartphone or ipad during Center time. However, that is not the question you asked….sorry…I got off subject…..I think that it is not too let to start anything new-nope, not at all….but if you start “NO More Letter of the Week,” I would suggest assigning at least 2 letters per week. I hope this helps! Don’t stress-I am sure you are doing great!!!!! -Andrea

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