Teachers have been using daily language and spiral review for years. It’s the way I start language arts class each day because it gives the students an opportunity to master different grammar and literacy skills. I watch for common mistakes on weekly grammar, vocabulary, and literature assessments and wrap those back into my daily bell ringers. We correct the 2-3 questions together and can review many skills without needing a full lesson. Daily language prompts are great reinforcement for students who have demonstrated mastery and a chance to build confidence in those students who still need more practice.
Originally, I bought a daily language review workbook from an established education publishing company. The daily questions typically focused on spelling and writing mechanics. I don’t think the effectiveness of a teacher should be judged by standardized test scores, but one year, my class average in writing and mechanics improved 14 percentile points. I analyzed the heck out of my daily routine to figure out how to maintain gains like that. Turns out, two sentence corrections per day (the daily language practice) resulted in big success.
I noticed a drop in something called verbal reasoning. What did I miss in my curriculum during the year that created a dip in that sub-set of scores? Categorizing words. My students do well with flat out vocabulary because of all of the work we do with ROOTS AND PREFIXES. When they needed to manipulate and compare words in groups, they were not as successful. So, I started changing my spiral review routine to match the needs of my students. I incorporated questions that dealt with word categories, shades of meaning, and analogies along with the mix of standard proofreading and spelling corrections. In addition, I added writer’s craft questions.
4 Ways to Maximize Daily Language and Spiral Review
- DAILY QUESTIONS: Add a reasoning type question to daily language warm-up activities. Complete two sentence corrections a day and mix in an additional question style to the bell ringer activity. Complete an analogy, choose a good title for a group of words, or complete some other “word work” problem. Correct and discuss as a group. It becomes part of the students’ routine and builds a thinking habit. To download a week’s worth of free daily language questions I use, CLICK HERE.
- WEEKLY TESTS: Incorporate synonym, analogy, word category, and word relationship questions to weekly vocabulary and spelling tests. Students become familiar with these type of questions and analyze how words fit together on a regular basis. I compiled some of my verbal reasoning practice questions into a test prep product for purchase HERE.
- LONGER ASSESSMENTS: Include a short reading passage on literature and social studies assessments. Choose a paragraph or article that is related to the content of the test but is something the students have not seen. For example, on my mythology tests this year, I would add a different version of a story that we had read as a group. After reading the new version, the kids would have to answer multiple choice questions about the content of the reading selection as well as questions about style, main idea, theme, and various literary elements.
- WRITING ASSIGNMENTS: When completing writing assignments, look for words that are repeated often. Generate lists in the margins that could replace overused words. Basically, create a synonym list or personal thesaurus. As students edit the writing assignment, discuss which words are stronger or weaker. Rank the words in order of importance. Determine why one word might be more appropriate than another. Students should be aware of the connotations different words create. THIS RANKING WORDS paint chip activity can be a great way to get kids thinking about shades of meaning.
A daily warm-up activity maximizes teaching time, provides effective review to boost skill retention, and establishes consistent routines in the classroom. Daily language is one piece of my language curriculum that I never eliminate as I refresh my teaching plans for the new school year.