In our December writing meeting each year, I discuss with students the use of a new-fangled tool called, “Have-a-go.” I NEVER tell them what it is, but give them a little hint, write it as their writing goal, and give them something to look forward to in January (I’m just sure they’re waiting with baited breath!) Now, I’m going to take a few moments to explain what Have-a-go is to you with the understanding that this is still a SECRET J so please don’t disclose this information to your first grader!
Up until this point, we have been using “inventive spelling” to sound out words that we are unsure of. Any words that are on the Word Wall have already been introduced, studied, and are expected to be spelled correctly in their daily writing. However, at some point, it is good for them to see the correct spelling of words they haven’t learned yet. They are at the point in their reading that they can make connections to things they’ve previously learned and start seeing patterns in spelling of words. In fact, it’s exciting to see! Here’s how the Have-A-Go works:
Students are given a three-column chart to keep in a folder and bring with them to the writing table on their writing day. When a child thinks of a word they would like to use in writing rather than sound it out on their story, they try it on their “have-a-go” two times in the first two columns. Each time they try it, it has to look different (clue: sometimes when we change the vowel sound around, it ends up being correct!) The third column is only used if the first two attempts are incorrect and is only used by the teacher. At that point, I writes the word correctly. (If one of the attempts is correct, it is circled.) This chart then becomes, in effect, a personal dictionary. ALL the words that a student doesn’t know are now recorded on this handy-dandy chart, easily accessible to them during writing time or any other time they need to know a word. It looks something like this:
This concept will be introduced in January and, once we’ve completed January Writing Meetings, you will (hopefully) see stories coming home with ALL words spelled correctly. ALL of the experimenting will happen on the Have-a-go and the resulting stories will look like “clean” copies! I can’t wait to see the results!