When two vowels go walking…

When two vowels go walking …

It is more than a little helpful to have a handy set of flash cards ready to prompt younger learners and give them reading cues. When learning about “vowel pairs”, for example, cue cards like these are colourful and attractive:

As the time-honoured reading prompt goes: “When two vowels go walking, the first does the talking …” Then, feeling smug with your handy flash cards, you help the child out with the picture provided: “oa” makes “coat.”

To my surprise, the most effective set of flash cards that I have used with my Gr. 1 student is one that she created herself. When I uttered the phrase “when two vowels go walking …” she immediately drew some minuscule legs on a couple of little vowels:


Note that the first attempt had a minor error: the order of the vowels. I urged her to reconsider: the first does the talking. She re-arranged accordingly and proceeded to create different vowel pairs “meeting” each other. The following results were stupendous:


The student rapidly became familiar with which vowels formed which pairs. The truth is, the effectiveness of these homemade flash cards should not have come as a surprise to me. Involving the child in the learning process is essential to developing their ability to retain the concepts and apply them.




Online resources: a student’s best friends


Online resources: a student’s best friends

 Throughout elementary and high school, I was a forgetful person. I would forget everything from what homework I had to do, to where I left my lunch bag. My parents often said that I would lose my head if it wasn’t screwed on. As a tutor, I’ve had many students who are just as forgetful as I was. It can be stressful for students, their parents, and their tutors when they forget the textbook they need to finish their homework, or the book they need to write a report on for English. However, I’ve found that in most of these cases there is no need to panic or rush back to school to get the forgotten item. What many parents and students underestimate is the immense collection of resources available online. One of my students last week left her math textbook at school, which would have made it difficult to do her homework. When she showed up to tutoring, all we had to do was a simple Google search to find a full copy of the textbook online. This also works for novels. Google Books is an amazing database of full and partial novels, many of which can be accessed for free. If a novel isn’t on Google Books, the Vancouver Public Library also has great collection of eBooks that can be borrowed for free. Also, many schools have paid for subscriptions to online databases that can be accessed through the library’s Webcat site (http://webcat.vsb.bc.ca/). These databases are full of wonderful and reliable sources that can help a lot with research projects. I recommend checking with your school’s librarian to get the access information. The internet is amazing, and is for so much more than cat videos and Facebook. Learning how to use it as a tool for learning is valuable for students as well as their parents.