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Monday, May 25, 2020

The Game Show that Made me a Better Reader

Yes! Wheel of Fortune was the game show that made me a better reader growing up in the 80s and 90s. My parents were not educated but my mom always knew what was best for us to watch.  We were a family of nine and watching Wheel of Fortune was a time where we all gathered in front of the television. We weren't fascinated by the prizes but we anticipated who among the 9 of us would solve the puzzle first.  Later on my mother actually bought us the Wheel of Fortune board game. It was great! There was a spinning wheel, play money, and the game board. Someone had to be Pat, Vanna and of course the contestants. Among the fun and cash, we were perfecting our reading and math skills as well.

Here are 5 ways Wheel of Fortune impacted my learning:

1. Letter Recognition
So I'm watching Wheel of Fortune literally as I write this blog post. The first most obvious way this show helped me was with letter recognition. Of course Vanna only reveals capital letters but it's still a great start for a young learner. I come from parents who were not educated so every opportunity to learn something counted. The contestants call out the letters and Vanna taps them. Guys it doesn't get any easier than this.

2. Reading fluency
This show helped me with fluency. Although, most of the puzzles are phrases, that's ok because, it still develops language. Fluency develops speed and lends to comprehension.

3. Spelling
When I was in elementary school I was very good at spelling and I believe this show not only helped me but extended my learning. We didn't have many books in the house nor did my parents have a budget for literature. I loved words and loved breaking down multi-syllable words. Understanding parts of words and there meaning is what helped me to thrive in other subject areas besides reading. We would go to the library as often as we could but besides going to school, Wheel of Fortune was a very consistent force in my daily routine.

4. Comprehension
The phrases on the show gave me understanding of the world, things I normally didn't see in my environment. It definitely broadened my curiosity of what else was out there growing up in a small town.  It made think about what the words meant and I would go searching in my dictionary when I wanted to learn more. The language used on the show by the host and the contestants helped to structure my writing as well. By my 12th grade year, I could remember helping my peers over the phone with their writing assignments.
5. Recognizing and mentally adding larger numbers
When that wheel spends the contestants have to choose a letter. If they fell on 200 and the letter they selected occurred 3 times in the puzzle, the host would say you now have 600 dollars. From there the value would increase by hundreds or even thousands unless they hit bankrupt.  I wasn't that great with math but my siblings were. It was fascinating seeing them spit out the value before Pat would because, they could add larger numbers mentally. Even though they already knew how to do it, the show gave them practice which built math fluency. Even still to this day, my sister can add large sums mentally. Both she and my brother work in business related fields because, math is what they loved.

So there you have it the show that helped me read and my siblings add; Wheel of Fortune. Also, then and now it's always been a clean family show. The whole family can watch and learn together.

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