WITSK supports Chicago’s youngest learners. With their mentors, kindergartners practice reading readiness and other basic literacy skills. This year, WITS introduced WITS Kindergarten Strategy Cards (WITSK Cards) to several of our Kindergarten programs to provide mentors with additional tips and tricks to help their students develop their literacy skills. The WITSK Cards were created to support the skills students are gaining in class and in response to what mentors were beginning to do organically. Designed as separate sets of easy-to-read cards, WITSK Cards are a resource for mentors to guide reading sessions with their students throughout the year in a flexible and accessible way.
The WITSK Cards Content
The WITSK Cards feature three sections: What to Know, What to Say, and More Information. For a given topic, the “What to Know” section will have a few points about the content that mentors can work on with their students (i.e. naming letters, identifying punctuation, making predictions). In the “What to Say” section, there are various prompts that mentors can say to engage students in these skills. And in the “More Information” section, there is additional background information about why this skill is important to master and what mastery looks like so that mentors know when to move on to another card with their students.
Each set of WITSK Cards centers around a set of skills that students are learning in Kindergarten. Within each set there are three to six different cards with different concepts for mentors to explore with their students. For example, the first set of cards focuses on Reading Readiness, which includes:
- Parts of a Book
- Front and back covers
- Author and illustrator
- The spine
- Identifying words vs. letters and one-to-one matching
- Match one verbal word with one printed word
- Directionality and the return sweep
- Reading from left to right
- Then sweeping down to the beginning of the next line
- Question marks
- Exclamation points
- Read with the right inflection and emotion
WITSK Cards: Why Adult-Mediated Conversations are Important
The WITSK Cards were made by WITS’ very own curriculum manager, Laurie Brooks, to help to guide conversations between mentors and students that allow for learning and growth. Young, emergent learners require these adult-mediated conversations in order to increase their understanding and better grasp new concepts. This is where the WITSK Cards come into play. Having positive reading role models not just read with them, but also talk about the books they’re reading and ask them questions, encourages students to have good reading habits. They not only enjoy reading books with these role models, but they are engaged and interacting with them on a one-on-one level and gaining much more from the content with this undivided attention and guidance they receive.
The Evolving Nature of WITS
WITS measures success with two outcomes: improving reading level growth and attitudes towards reading. In order to better serve the needs of the students and educators of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and further increase the growth of these students, WITS is evolving. Part of this evolution is the implementation of WITSK Cards to more closely align WITS with the CPS curriculum. Mentors are eager to further impact the literacy growth of their students. Teachers are similarly excited about WITSK cards. Before, they were glad for their students to receive additional attention from mentors and extra reading time. However, now they are ecstatic that mentors are also helping students build on what they are learning in the classroom in a fun and stress-free environment. WITS is excited to provide this new resource to help kindergartners and mentors grow together.