With far too much frequency, older students often need intensive instruction to learn to read with competence. You may have heard of the ‘third grade wall’, or the ‘fourth grade slump’. Both terms refer to students who managed to get by in Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade, but when they reach third or fourth grade they ‘hit a wall’ and stop progressing. These students, for any number of reasons, may have missed the foundational skills in reading. Perhaps the curriculum didn’t adhere to Science of Reading, or follow a structured literacy format. Perhaps the student had attentional issues that impacted his or her ability to focus on instruction. If you teach third grade or beyond, you’ve probably met these struggling readers and you’ve wondered how to help them.[Read more…]
A true understanding of letter names and sounds is much more than just singing the alphabet. Students must recognize both capital and lower case letters shown in any sequence. Students must also be able to associate and articulate the sound that the letters represent. Our Free Letter Name and Sound Assessment includes an in-depth analysis of typical student responses called Guidelines for Analyzing Letter Name and Sound. This document provides an essential framework for interpreting your students’ varying abilities.[Read more…]
This blog post is the second in a series on the Alphabetic Principle. Simply put, the alphabetic principle is the understanding that letters and letter groupings represent the sounds of spoken language. In order to read, students must know that letters represent sounds and when blended together, these sounds become words.
What is the best place to begin teaching my students?[Read more…]
Vocabulary is one of five fundamental parts of structured literacy. As Gough and Tunmer’s ‘Simple View of Reading’ illustrates, it is as important for students to develop vocabulary knowledge as it is for them learn how to decode words. Combining a student’s ability to decode with a robust vocabulary leads to increased comprehension.
Emily Hanford notes in her article APM Reports: At a Loss for Words: “This comes straight from the scientific research, which shows that reading comprehension is the product of two things. First a child needs to be able to sound out a word. Second, the child needs to know the meaning of the word she just sounded out. So, in a first-grade classroom that’s following the research, you will see explicit phonics instruction and also lessons that build oral vocabulary and background knowledge. And you see kids practicing what they’ve been taught.”[Read more…]
Before you can teach about a closed syllable exception, you first must understand what a closed syllable is. To learn about the closed syllable click here.
A closed syllable exception is a syllable that contains one vowel, followed by one or more consonants. However, rather than a short vowel sound, the closed syllable exception has a long vowel sound.
What should I know about closed syllable exceptions?[Read more…]
Explicit and systematic instruction in the reading and spelling of words with suffix -s and -es is the most effective way to ensure that students become skilled decoders.
When should suffix -s and -es be introduced?[Read more…]
There are some important things to know about glued or welded sounds in order to teach them effectively.
First, some glued sounds only have two sounds while others have three. We wrote a previous post about how to teach the two-sound element. You might want to read “What Are Glued Sounds and Why Are They Important?” before reading about the three-sound element.
What are the three-sound glued or welded sounds?
These sound groupings end with either -ng or -nk and contain the vowels a, i, o, and u. Three-sound welded sounds do not include the vowel -e. There are eight three-sound glued sounds in all: ang, ing, ong, ung, ank, ink, onk, and unk.
What is the best way to teach glued or welded sounds?[Read more…]
There are a few simple rules that students need to learn about reading and spelling words with bonus letters.
- Bonus letters are double consonants found at the end of the word.
- There are only four consonants that are consistently doubled: f, l, s, and z.
- These letters are doubled when they directly follow a vowel in a closed syllable. In other words, these letters are ‘stuck’ to the short vowel.
- Bonus letters make one sound.
Read on to find some helpful tips about teaching this phonetic concept.[Read more…]
Glued sounds are also known as welded sounds. Glued sounds are groups of letters whose distinct sounds are difficult to separate when segmenting words. These types of letter groupings are more easily taught as ‘stuck together’. We’ll talk more about that a bit later.
Are all glued sounds the same?
No. Some glued sounds have two sounds: all, am, and an. In these letter groupings, the vowel a does not make it’s expected sound. In the case of all, the a sounds more like a short o. When ‘a’ is followed by an ‘m’ or an ‘n’ as in am and an, the sound of ‘a’ becomes nasalized. This is more prominent with certain dialects like New England.
Other glued sounds have three sounds: ang, ank, ing, ink, ong, onk, ung, unk. In these groupings the vowel sound doesn’t change, but the sound of ‘n’ can fade into the background. We like to explain to our students that the sound of ‘n’ gets swallowed or stuck in our throat. We’ll discuss three-sound glued sounds in an upcoming post.
What is the best way to teach glued sounds?
It’s best to separate the glued sounds into two categories: two vs three sounds. Begin by teaching the two sound pairings first. These are /all/, /am/ and /an/. Explain that the sound of the ‘a’ changes when it is next to certain letters.
Which glued sound should I teach first?
Show the sound card for ‘all’. Tell the students that usually ‘a’ says /a/, but when it is followed by two l’s, ‘a’ doesn’t say its expected sound. Instead it says /o/. all has two sounds /o/ and /l/. When we tap words with all we tap with two fingers because it has two sounds. Demonstrate by tapping your thumb with your middle finger and your ring finger at the same time while saying /all/ . Ask the students to try tapping and saying /all/.
Now say the word tall and demonstrate tapping /t/ (pointer finger to thumb)…/all/ (middle and ring finger to thumb). Ask students to say and tap the word tall. You can segment and tap additional words if time allows: call, fall, hall, mall, wall. Stick with three sound words when introducing /all/. Do not include words with blends such as small and stall.
What should I teach after my students are familiar with the glued sound /all/?
Next introduce the am and an cards. Explain that when ‘a’ is next to these letters, the sound comes through your nose. Demonstrate by saying the sound of short a /aaaaaaaaaa/ while plugging and unplugging your nose. Ask the students to notice if the sound changes at all. Hint: No it doesn’t change. Have the students try the same thing.
Show the /am/ card and say the sound /am/. As before say /aaaaam/ while plugging and unplugging your nose. Ask the students if the sound changes. Yes – the sound becomes blocked because it is trying to come through your nose. Have your students try saying /am/ while plugging and unplugging their noses.
Follow the same procedure for /an/.
Next demonstrate segmenting and tapping words words with /am/. ham../h/ (pointer finger to thumb)…/am/ (middle and ring finger to thumb). Additional three sound words for segmenting and blending include: bam, dam, jam, pam, ram, wham,
Finally demonstrate segmenting and tapping words with /an/. Jan…/j/ (middle and ring finger to thumb)…/an/ (middle and ring finger to thumb). Additional words for segmenting and blending include: ban, can, Dan, fan, man, pan, ran, tan, van.
How can I help my students read glued sounds in connected text?
We find the best way to help students develop their ability to read words containing glued sounds is to use controlled text. Controlled text refers to texts (words, sentences, and stories) in which the majority of the words students are expected to read contain previously taught concepts. Another term for controlled texts is decodable texts. Here are a couple of tips:
- Focus on reading and spelling two-sound glued sounds. Wait until mastery before introducing three-sound glued sounds.
- Use texts that students are able to write on. Before reading the text, prompt the students to box the the glued sounds. The visual cue of the box reminds students that these sounds are stuck together and should be tapped as a unit when decoding.
What is the best way to help my students spell words with glued sounds?
In a previous post we discussed the power of using a phoneme/grapheme grid. Each box on the grid represents one sound. However, because the sounds in a glued sound are stuck together, they will share a box. Our students use the following procedure:
- The teacher says the word.
- The students repeat the word.
- Ask students to ‘tap’ the word and make a small dot in the bottom corner of the grid.
- Then students must go back and write the letter in the corresponding box.
- Last, have the students write the word on the line next to the boxes.
We mentioned previously that when teaching glued sounds teachers should focus on two-sound pairings first. However, when first introducing spelling you may want to break the teaching into more finite units. On the first day you may choose to focus on /all/ only. The next day focus only on /am/ and the next, /an/. After which, you can do mixed review of all two sound pairings. The following illustration shows both a single focus of spelling and a mixed review.
For added practice, you can dictate a sentence using words from the grid. There is space at the bottom of the grid for sentence writing.
Lastly, when using this grid, you can reinforce reading words with glued sounds by having the students read their list of words aloud.
Where can I find resources to teach the glued sound?
Kindergarten and First Grade readers love to read nonfiction. Many of these kiddos are emerging readers who often have trouble accessing traditional nonfiction texts. That’s why it’s important to include decodable nonfiction books in your reading instruction.[Read more…]