Hello Friends! It is November already in first grade...and to the untrained eye, things seem to be running UNBELIEVABLY smoothly!! To the trained eye, however...HOLY SMOKES do we have a whole lot of work to do!!! (insert teacher sobs here!) Yes, routines have fallen nicely into place, behaviors have been tamed, and yes, the classroom climate has developed nicely. However, now that these things are not first and foremost on our to-do lists of things to fix, a whole new group of first grade problems, idiosyncrasies and quirks are staring us in the face! One that I have been working diligently on this past week is THE DREADED B AND D REVERSAL!
Having taught first grade for such a long time, I am here to tell you that much research has been done on the subject of 6-7 year olds writing letters and numbers backwards. In a nutshell, it IS INDEED still developmentally appropriate for children of this age to be reversing letters and numbers when writing. It is when they get beyond first grade and are still having MULTIPLE reversal problems in addition to other reading and writing deficiencies or problems that it is time to be concerned about an underlying problem.
It makes sense that this would still be a developmental issue at this point in their lives...I mean think about it! Imagine if you were told tomorrow that you can only read and write in chinese. Now, you have to learn the sounds, the symbols, the rules of the language, and the meanings and usage of new words. Then... you have to put all of that together at one time and read it and write it. Sound easy? Of course not!
So...yes, it is going to happen in first grade...and yes, it is going to happen A WHOLE BUNCH! I have found that the best thing to do for the class overall, is to constantly remind the students to check the direction of their letters and numbers, and when I say constantly...I mean C-O-N-S-T-A-N-T-LY! It is not enough to just circle it or correct it on a paper after the paper has been turned in. Let's be realistic, unless the parent is going to go over that paper with the child at home...you probably just wasted yourself a bunch of time and ink! It is much more beneficial to walk around the room and try to catch it while it is happening so that you can point it out to the student and have them fix it right then. It is just as important to make sure that the students have a clear reference with them at all times so that they can make their corrections. When they are at their seats, I use nameplates that have an alphabet strip and a number line visible as well as their first and last name. This way they are constantly seeing the proper formation and directionality of the letters and numbers. (My favorite nameplates are from Erica Bohrer's TPT Store. You can find them HERE.)
Since most of our writing is done at our seats, this covers reversals during writing...
However, reversals don't stop there! Think about it... those children that are reversing the letters when they write them, are more often than not reversing the letters when they are reading them too!
Now, the letters that will trick students up most when reversing them while reading are lowercase B and D, because when backwards they are interchangeable. (Lowercase P and Q can pose the same problem, however, I have chosen to tackle one hot-mess at a time!)
I have come across lots of cute stories and pictures to help teach the direction of B and D over the years, but the two that have seemed to work the best for me are "b is a bat and a ball", and "d is a dog with a tail". (This idea originally came from a program called Itchy's Alphabet that uses shapes of everyday objects to help students learn their letters.) My firsties love learning about all the shapes that Itchy thinks letters look like!
This is how I teach the letter B...
This is how I teach the letter D...
I must also confess, I think the dog one works so well with my students because I do act out what it looks like when a dog comes to you face first, and when a dog comes to you tail first...this is a routine I am requested to do QUITE OFTEN in my classroom! (Hence the name of the blog!)
Since the students choose their own reading spots around the room, they do not have their nameplate to reference for B and D, so I made these reference cards for them to keep with them in their reading folders.
You can get these FREEBIES HERE!
When I print them out for the students I print out 2 on a page onto bright cardstock, laminate, and they keep one in their reading folder and have one to take home and keep with their homework folder. I also print out regular sized copies to keep at my guided reading table, and one poster sized copy to put on the board for reference.
I hope this helps you tackle B and D Reversals in your classroom...now can someone help me with getting it all done in a day?! a week?! a month even?! Is anybody out there?! (cue crickets!)