"Back and Forth" Notebook
For your lowest students and those who you know can you get parent support at home for, you can use a back and forth notebook. In a "back and forth" notebook you and the parent make notes about the activities done with the student and how effective each one seemed to be. Spend a little time with the student on writing each day, try different strategies and activities, and then spend a few minutes writing about the activities and noting those that worked particularly well. Through your own notes you can model the kinds of notes you want the parent to write to you, as well as how to scaffold instruction, and your expectations for slowly making the work more challenging. A great way to start this notebook is with the kids in your class who are having a lot of trouble learning their letters and sounds.
Two-Word Combination Strategy
For those students who need extra support to move from random letter spelling with no spacing to phonetically spelled words with spaces between them, try this quick one-on-one writing strategy. Have the student write two-word phrases or labels where the first word in one the student already knows (a word wall word that has already been introduced and that the child is familiar with) and the second word is a word they can phonetically sound out. For example: a man, the hat, my dog, etc. After deciding on a two-word phrase with the child, remind him or her that the first word is one he or she already knows and one that can be copied from the word wall. After several weeks of working with the same couple of word wall words, the child should become familiar with them and be able to write them without looking. Assist the child in remembering to put finger space between the words and segmenting the sounds. In the beginning the child may only be able to make out the beginning sound of the word and write the first letter. Work with the child where they are, but make sure they point to the words and read them back to you exactly as they wanted them written. For example: If they wanted to write "my cat" but wrote "my c" they would read it "my cat." Also be sure to guide the student so that your one-on-one work with this strategy transfers to their independent writing.