Battle of the Reversals! Who will win?

Did you hear the news? I have a hot new intervention to share with you about letter reversals.  If you teach first grade, you are probably leaning toward your computer right now because you know you have those few special friends who could use this!

But there are some things you should know:

The intervention is not research-based. (WHAT?!?!)
It doesn’t come in a fancy box.
It does not have to be administered for 40 continuous minutes, 5 x a day, in a small group.
I don’t have graphs and color-coded data to share with you. 
It doesn’t use technology. maybe it’s not a real intervention.

It uses a sticky note.
I get to make jokes with my kids.
We laugh.
It’s free.
It’s fast.
It’s fun.

It’s working. 

I have a little sweetie this year (For this post, let’s call him Jay.) who is having a hard time with letter reversals.  Specifically, the letter s. It is backwards a lot. A lot a lot a lot. During the first half of the year, we worked hard on reversals.  But at this point in the year, I expect those reversals to start disappearing. So when I notice letters that are continually being written backwards, it’s time to squash it – because at this point, it has now become a habit

Last week, during writing, I found myself repeating the same things over and over again to this student. “Flip that s around.” “Your s is backwards.” “Can you find the letter that is backwards again?”  I was frustrated. He was frustrated. 

Enter: Jay versus The Letter S.
I put a sticky note on his desk and drew a line down the middle. I wrote his name on one side and the letter “s” on the other. I explained the rules.  Every time you write the letter s backwards, the letter “s” gets a point. Every time you write it correctly, YOU get a point.
“Are you going to let the letter S beat you!?” I asked him. “No way!!” I said.  “Are you going to lose to a letter?!” “I don’t think so!” I told him.
He grinned and kept writing. (Or he silently confirmed to himself that his teacher is indeed nuts.) A few minutes later I walked by:   
“Letter S: 3   Jay: 1”  
“It’s winning….just sayin.’ ” I said.  
He giggled.
Suddenly, he was erasing backwards s’s and writing them correctly. He would write the s backwards, erase, and write it correctly. Then, he would give himself a point.  After a few more sentences, he wrote the s correctly three times in a row.  By the end of last week, the number of times he automatically wrote the letter s backwards had been cut in half. This week, he has only reversed it a handful of times. All throughout this time, I made it seem like a hilarious game to him, acting like a ref at a football game. “It’s halftime and you’re up by 3. Put that S in his place!” He laughed. I laughed. His desk partner laughed. His desk partner became my assistant coach – encouraging him and cheering him on when his tally scores were winning. 

To him, he is playing a game.
To me, he is self-correcting himself.

(Insert sneaky teacher laugh here.)

So that, my friends, is my new intervention.
Because sometimes, “Teacher Tested, Student Approved” is the best kind of research.  


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  1. I love this idea! I have some kinders that are struggling and a lot of times kinders' writing gets overlooked because they are still learning letter formation… but really at this time of the year, they need eliminate the habit so they are ready for first grade! I'm going to try this with a few kinders and see how it goes. Thanks for the idea!

    I am new to blogging and followed you! My blog is Daisy Designs ! Thanks again!

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