Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Digital Homophone Treasure


Welcome to the Pirate Queen's blog, me hearties!  As you see by this post's title, my focus is on homophones.  Yes, those irritating words that sound the same but have different meanings and different spellings!  As teachers we all have our little tricks to help our students understand the meanings and learn the spellings of these rascally words.  For example, do you define "there" as a word that indicates a place?  In addition, do you point out the word, here, embedded in the word, there?  Of course you do!  And I'm certain that you point out that the word, here, also indicates a place. If your students know that here is a place and there is a place, and if they can spell here, then they can spell there.  Right?!  Unless they confuse here and hear!  Oh yeah, then we point out that ear is embedded in hear and we use our ears to hear!  Sorry, I got carried away their!  Oops! I meant there!  See how easy it is to select the wrong word.

It's not that students can't spell homophones or they don't know the meanings or uses of homophones.  The problem is that when students are busy writing, they are focused on what they are thinking.  As teachers, that's wear, I mean where, we want their focus to be.  After their thoughts are completed, that's when the focus turns to the spelling of the words they have used.  But do students always go back and examine their writing looking for errors with spelling or incorrect use of words, such as homophones?  Of course not! 

Then what are teachers to do to help their students?  Here's an editing suggestion that was shared during a writing workshop I attended.  First, have students circle words they know and/or think have been misspelled. More than likely, those circled words will not be homophones. After students correct the circled words, have them underline all homophones they used.  Next, they read each sentence containing a homophone.   For example:  

                  Too study for tomorrow's science test, George went to his room 
                     so no one could bother him.  

If you have covered or reviewed frequently used homophones, your students will know that "too" is a synonym for "also" or is used to show excessiveness as in "too sick to play outside".  They will also be aware that "to" is often followed by an action as in "to play" or used to express motion or direction as in "went to his room".

The key here is to review homophones with your students periodically and provide them with engaging practice.  When reviewing, create with your students a reference chart that can be posted in the classroom.  Ask students in small groups of 2-3 to define "homophones".  After sharing their definitions, have them assist you in determining the best definition to write on the chart.  Next, ask students to brainstorm homophone families such as there, their, they're.  You may want to add these families to the reference chart.  Then assign groups specific homophone families to investigate. Have them determine the meaning of each word in their assigned homophone family.  Once they have defined their words, they should also write a sentence for each word. Provide each group with poster paper to create a chart for their homophone family.  These charts can be posted in your room for students to use as references when they are editing their own writing.

I also recommend homophone sorting and editing activities which are available in my teaching treasure chest!  Below is a sorting sample for homophones: there, their, they're.  The homophone cards are to be placed on the floor or table.  For each sentence, students must determine which homophone fills the blank.  Then the sentence is placed below the appropriate homophone card.  Students can complete this activity individually or with a partner.  When all sentences have been placed below the cards, students may check their sort with the Answer Key.  

Here is a sample of the editing activity.

Students read the paragraph looking for the homophones.  When they come upon one, they stop and check to see if it is used properly.  If it is the correct homophone, then students continue reading until they come to another homophone.  However, if an incorrect word has been used, the student draws a line through the wrong homophone and then writes the correct word above the incorrect one.  (In the above picture, there appear to be underlined words along the left margin.  However, that is not the case in the PDF format.) 

Both the sorting and editing activities are available as PDFs as well as TpT Digital Activities.

If you are looking for resources to introduce or review Homophone Families, my treasure chest has three slideshows you might find useful:

  • There, Their, They're
  • To, Too, Two
  • Its, It's   

Thanks for sailing to my blog during your very busy day.  I hope you discovered some valuable treasure for your classroom.  Please visit again.  In the meantime, happy sailing!