Using an Anchor to Help Your Students Cement What They Are Learning

Cementing Strategies

If you have been keeping up with our blogs, you will know that all this month we are talking about ways we can help cement strategies for our students who just aren't getting it.  If you are new to our blog, welcome! You can catch up on our last two posts here: 3 Ways to Generalize Skills Learned in Isolation and Is it Just My Kids, Or...

The third approach we want to share with you, is to use an anchor.  This could be a number of things like a visual (closed doors vs. open doors when talking about syllables), chips when practicing phonological awareness, or an acronym.  One of our favorites is our COPS acronym.

When we teach our students to edit their work, they often struggle to remember all of the different criteria that they have to check for.  We use the saying “send out the COPS” or even just the acronym “COPS” to help them remember.  By giving them this acronym as an anchor, they have a much better chance of remembering what they need to do because the letters give them a prompt as to what they have to look for next, instead of relying on word retrieval. The acronym stands for...

C - Capitalization

O - Organization

P - Punctuation

S - Spelling

Who can use this?

We have used this acronym with all of our students, from those who are just learning to write, to our high schoolers.  I even use it when editing my own work (like this blog!). We differentiate this for our students by limiting what letter/criteria they will be responsible for, and scaffolding the skills in as we go.  Early on, we may ask that students only be responsible for their capital letters. As we progress through the phonogram rules the students are then held accountable for using those rules correctly when working on spelling. Eventually, they will be responsible for checking for 100% accuracy in all four areas. 

How is this incorporated into the SMARTER intervention curriculum?

If you are familiar with our curriculum, in every single lesson we have our students writing sentences (though the level is differentiated).  For every sentence, we note our student’s ability to apply COPS. I note what they did while writing, what corrections they made themselves when editing, and if I had to provide support in fixing an error. I will also have them apply this to their homework if it includes sentences. 

You can use this acronym any time your student is writing. 

Something to consider... 

Sometimes, when our students are writing sentences, they are making errors applicable to rules they have not been explicitly taught yet.  While we want our students to recognize and fix their mistakes, sometimes over-correcting can cause frustration and confusion.  If the spelling error applies to a rule that has already been taught, ask your student if they have any questions about spelling within their sentence (this will allow you to monitor their ability to recognize their mistakes).  If they point it out, help them figure out the correct answer.  If they don't, then point it out and talk about it.  If the spelling error does not apply to a rule that has already been taught, use your judgement to decide whether you want to correct it or not, considering the student’s sensitivity to error correction, the difficulty of the word (and if it is one that they will commonly see in class/life), and how many other corrections have already been made.

Now what?

We encourage you to use this strategy to help cement this rule for your students!

As always, if you have any questions, you can let us know on our Facebook page