Hi, friends! I get the question, "Why don't you use a virtual letter board?" a lot within the Read to Rewire community. Most recently, in a coaching call, an online tutor asked me straight forwardly, "Virtual or standard letter board?" My answer? Keep it standard.
This week on the blog, I'm chatting and listing the reasons I feel so strongly about this and how you can be successful at using standard letter boards too!
Reasons for Using a Standard Letter Board
When we are right next to a child, it is easier to monitor their work, their readiness for a lesson, and assist with set-up. Online lessons are slightly different. Our goal is to make the student accountable on their side of the lesson. Having physical letter boards on each side of the screen helps students stay focused and see how you model certain strategies.
My favorite Tips During a Lesson
During dictation, dictate the word and have the student repeat using gestures, if necessary, like holding hand up to ear (waiting to hear for their response). During a letter board activity, try holding the students' attention by holding and modeling your own letter board. Using a physical letter board for online lessons keeps the lessons multi-sensory. It definitely improves engagement, especially for younger students. I also like to send a picture of the letter board to parents of my younger students in case they need to help.
Turn it into a game. Call it "Do We Match?" Or, you can tell your student that you would love to hear a fun word that they make up. Build the word on your side as they do.
You can also use code phrases (I've talked about code phrases in this post 😉), like "I'm building my word, are you building your word?" Let them ask you if your words match. My students love to be the host of our lesson. Other code phrases can be, "My letter board is ready, is your letter board ready?" You can also ask, "Are all of your letters on home base?" Have students say, "Teacher check" when they're ready.
Additional Tips to Make Your Lesson Run Smoothly
Make sure your students have blank tiles on hand in case one goes missing. Which, we all know happens a lot. 😊
Have them use a cookie sheet for their letters. It's super magnetized and works really well with younger students. I like to encourage families to purchase an inexpensive one for their child to have within arm's reach. I once had a student use one that their mom used to bake cookies with....it didn't turn out so well. 🤷♀️
While I'm at it, I also like to have students keep an erasable marker nearby, just in case. They are so handy to have during lessons. During your online lesson, use the spotlight feature so you can control whose the biggest in the video. I talk a lot about document cameras. They are so easy to use for breaking down a spelling strategy for a student when they need it.
I hope this has been helpful information for you regarding letter boards. Let me know if you have any questions.
Have a great week!