At the start of each year, my first-grade students and I often sit down together near our chart stand to practice interactive writing. They sit clumped on the floor with dry-erase boards and markers in hand as I sit next to the chart to guide their ideas, words, and conventions. The chart paper is our public record of our thoughts, and the students practice with me as we record a piece of writing. I often hand my pen over to volunteers who come up to record our ideas on the chart.
The writing may be a sentence about our day or about a book, a list of choices for play, or directions for how to share a book: the possibilities are endless. As we write, we think aloud and refer to tools for the sounds and words we are learning. We pause and think first about how to form letters, and listen for sounds in words, patterns we know, and high-frequency words we know in a snap. As we think, I often link kids to a tool that can support their thinking about a letter, word, or pattern. We use an alphabet chart, the class name chart, and a vowel chart, and the blends chart is used to capture the two-sound clusters we hear and see.
Creating an ongoing list of blends during interactive writing in the first weeks of school helps students take ownership in recognizing them. Students often begin to catch blends in their names, in books they read, and in writing they do. They are excited and often ask to add a blend to our chart. Allowing them the independence to use the chart has helped motivate them to think and share their learning about this small part of word learning.
In this clip, JJ and Alison have noticed a blend after a minilesson and are asking to add it to the chart as we transition between reading and writing.