Adventures in Literacy Land: Decoding

Showing posts with label Decoding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Decoding. Show all posts

Teaching Reading In Small Groups - Chapter 2: "Forming Groups: Making the Invisible Visible Through Assessment"

When I signed up for this summer book study, I immediately gravitated towards chapter 2! I have always struggled with small group reading instruction (hence, the book study participation) and one of my biggest struggles is HOW to get the kids into groups that make sense AND allow for the greatest amount of growth in all students. It seems like my reading groups tend to stay static for a loooong time and then abruptly change. Jennifer Serravallo has laid out some great ideas for how to create the best groups for your students and keep them flexible as their needs change.

Making Decoding Strategies Automatic: 3 Easy Steps

Making Decoding Strategies Automatic:  3 Easy Steps
Hello, Everyone.  This is Cathy from Cathy Collier's The W.I.S.E. Owl.  I am a reading specialist in a K-2 school.  I do both pull-out interventions and coaching, but have a soft spot for my pull-out kids. Two of my students this year are first grade students diagnosed with a "learning disability." (My undergraduate degree is in special education, so you know I love them.) They are the highlight of my day...and I won't deny I'd love to teach them all day!

When we started in late fall, these two were on a Level B and as of March they were moving into a Level D.  THEN, we hit a wall.  The D to E wall.  E seems to be the time when students are faced with lots of long vowel words, blends and digraphs, and word endings.  Here's what I know:  they can decode almost any word, IF I ask them questions and guide them.

For example, If they come to the word "gate."

     Me:  What do you know?        
Justin:  There is an "e" on the end?
     Me:  What does that mean?      
Justin:  The "e" makes the "a" says it's name.
     Me:  So, what is the word?      
Justin:  /g/ /a-a-a-a/ /t/,  gate.
     Me:  Great job!

What can I do?

My greatest challenge is getting the students to have their own internal dialog when using decoding strategies.  After a conversation with my Assistant Principal, we decided to try and practice the automaticity of the decoding strategies.  What does that mean?  I want them to come to an unknown word and think strategy first.  I have always "taught" and "practiced" the strategies, but I'm taking it one step farther.

1.  Play "Slap Jack"

I created a strip of the 3 strategies they seemed to need the most.  I chose 1 known and 2 unknown strategies.  We had been using CVC Sliders to practice our "slide and sound" with cvc words.   They have gotten pretty consistent with that strategy, so that became their "known" strategy.  The second strategy was the silent e "making the vowel say it's name (most of the time)."  We have talked about this strategy, but they needed concentrated practice with it.  The final strategy was "chop the endings."  We covered up or "chopped off" the endings to look at the base word for decoding.  To begin, I wrote 5 words for each strategy on an index card and when I flashed the card, they had to "slap the strategy" they would use to decode the word.  THEY DID NOT DECODE THE WORD.  This wasn't a decoding lesson, it was a strategy lesson.  We played this game for a week.  I let them sit side-by-side and slap the strategy together, but by the end of the week it was a race.  I wanted the strategy to be automatic.  The video below is Justin identifying the strategy for me.  (He said he didn't want to slap it, if it wasn't a game.  He thought he looked silly doing it alone.)
I hate that the video doesn't show all the strategies, but you get the idea.  By the end of the week, he was pointing to the strategy and saying the name of it.  That's what I want:  automaticity.

2.  Sort 

Part 1, we sorted with the cards from the week before.  I gave them the cards to sort under the strategy mat.  Yes, I should have made the cards smaller.  Lucky for you, I made small cards for you at the end of the post.  They would sort the cards as quickly as they could, then they would "prove" the cards belonged in that column.  They are still not reading the cards, they are just choosing a strategy.  Part 2, was a sort sheet.  This was an independent activity at the end of the week, but the students were still asked to "prove" the word belonged.  I also wanted to send a sample of a competed sort home to their parents.

3.  Read.

Finally, we read sentences I constructed with multiple strategies in each sentence.  As they came to an underlined word, they touched the strategy on the mat and then decoded the word.  They did a great job.  My favorite moment was when looking at the word "running" Justin said, "After I chop the ending, I can see a word to "slide and sound."  WOW...that's a moment, if you ask me.

I made a Decoding Strategy FREEBIE set for this idea.  


Why I don't teach kids to sound it out

One of the most common phrases you hear in a classroom, or at the dinner table during homework time, is "sound it out."  I have used this phrase many times myself, but then I learned better!

I  no longer tell my kids to sound it out when reading of spelling and here is why:

1. First of all, very few kids are ever actually taught how to sound something out. As adults, we move through the sounds so quickly that it doesn't give their little brains time to process how we got there. And so often, we as adults will get frustrated with the process and end up just telling them the word, without really giving them the chance to do it themselves.  The only thing we are teaching them this way is to wait long enough and she will give me the word!

Kid: What's this word?
Mom: Sound it out
Kid: /p/.../e/...I mean /u/....
Mom: /pump/, now what's the rest?
Kid: /pump/.../k/..../e/
Mom: No /i/
Kid: /i/..../n/
Mom: Good, now what's the word.
Kid : I don't know.
Mom: Pumpkin, the word is pumpkin!
Sound familiar? 

2. Even if we did teach a child to sound out words correctly, what happens when they come across a long word like pumpkin? That word has 7 different sounds. Do you think that a child will be able to remember the sound they started with by the time they get to the end? Not likely. These long words are very difficult to blend.

3. Not every sound that we read can be "sounded out".  The English language is such a backwards and tricky language.  Some words, you just can't sound out. Most of us call these sight words. That's okay, but what happens when we come across a word that you can't sound out, but it is not a sight word either? A word like mirage or or even one as simple as school?

4. A child that is learning to read will not know all of the many sounds of the written language before he/she starts picking up books. They will come across long vowels, vowel digraphs, diphthongs, y as a vowel, past/present endings and more. Just because the child hasn't learned these sounds, doesn't mean that we can't give them books to read. And we cannot only be giving decodable books either!  They have to be given regular books and strategies for reading those books!  If they don't know the sound, then they can't sound it out!

So what do I do instead? 

In my class, rather than sounding out words, we stretch and chunk.

Shorter words get stretched. We stretch the word in our mouths like a rubber band so that we don't lose any sounds along the way.  So if we are stretching the word "stomp" then we start with the first letter.  We add the second letter to the first letter and blend those two.  Then we add another letter and blend it with the first chunk that we already created.  We continue adding each letter until we have stretched out the entire word.

Why does this work?  Because the kids don't forget what sound they started with by the time they get to the end of the word.  A great way for students to practice this is by covering up the word except for the first letter.  Uncover one letter at a time, each time, blending it all together.  Try out my Stretchy the Snake freebie to see how it works!

 Stretchy Snake Decoding Strategy - FREE SAMPLE

I will even have students use hand motions to show that they are stretching their words.  We start with our hands together, fingers pinched, like we are holding a rubber band.  With each sound we add, we pull our hands further apart (stretching our rubber band).  When we get to the last sound, we let go of our "rubber band" and say our word! 

For larger words, we chunk.  We chunk the words into smaller parts so that we can then stretch each of those small parts.  For pumpkin, we chunk and then stretch.

In order to use this strategy, students have to be able to "see" the chunks.  This can be difficult for some students.  The best way to get students seeing the chunks is by exposing them to chunks of sound.  Have you noticed that pump and kin are both small words?  You could even take words and look for the small nonsense words inside of them!  Or put nonsense words together to see if they make big words. 

We know these as syllables and students can hear syllables when given a word orally, but don't always see them in the written words that they are reading.  You can make it easier by putting a dot in between your two syllables.  This helps them to see the chunks until they start seeing them for themselves.

Of course, these 2 strategies are not the only ones that you will need to teach your students.  Not every word can be "chunked" or "stretched."  You can teach them about skipping, flipping, and using pictures, but that is for another day! 

Thanks for hanging with me!


Word Attack Strategies!

When I work with my students during guided reading, I really focus on helping them develop good "word attack" strategies. I keep this anchor chart up for them to refer to. When they are stuck on a word, I always ask,"What strategy are you going to try?" Sometimes it takes more than one, but usually the strategies get the job done! After reading together, we even added another one (after I took this picture). The fifth one is: Look for chunks you know. This has actually ended up being one of the most popular ones! So here is a quick list of the strategies we use:

1. Look at the picture.
2. What would make sense?
3. Look at the beginning letter.
4. Skip it, read to the end of the sentence, then go back.
5. Look for chunks you know.

I use these strategies with all the grade levels I work with. I have really been pushing the strategies with my third graders. They wanted to sound out every word! I told them now that we were reading harder books, the words were getting too long to sound out. My third graders are also still working on learning several phonics rules, so their sounding out often was not successful. To break them of this "sounding out habit," I made a checklist.

I made a small list of the strategies for each student to have in front of them. I laminated the strategies so that students could check off the strategies with a dry erase marker as they used them. It has been a huge success! I am so pleased! My students are really starting to use these strategies instead of sounding out. I find it very interesting how certain students favor different strategies. Some students prefer to use a couple of the strategies over and over, whereas other students like to use every single one in a book. Differentiation at its finest, right?!

If you would like a copy of the strategies, click here, or on the picture above. I hope your students find them as useful as mine do!

What word attack strategies do you use with your students?



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Welcome!  Welcome!  It is absolutely thrilling to me to be a part of this wonderful literacy community!  I am Em from Curious Firsties.  My teaching started in Knoxville, TN where I taught second grade.  When I moved back to Cincinnati, OH I taught first and second grade (including a looping year).  About five years ago, I requested to be a Title I teacher (my dream job).  Currently, I work with only first grade students.  My school is departmentalized and leveled; therefore, I push into the classroom and provide small group instruction with my co-teachers.  I absolutely love my job and the challenges that it can pose.  
My FREEBIE product is a vowel-consonant-e word ladder packet.  Word ladders are a great way to engage our students in word study.  They have to analyze the clues to uncover the next word.  My ladders differ from traditional ones because I focus them on one specific pattern.  They provide support to students that have decoding difficulties and would benefit from practice with specific patterns.  I’m happy to share it with you!  The blogging world is such a great place to learn and grow.  I am excited to be a part of it!


Welcome Friends!  We are the blogging team of Colleen and Stacy from The Rungs of Reading.  We are so excited to be a part of this new collaborative blog to bring you best practices in the field of literacy.  Today we would like to talk a little about the importance of phonics/decoding strategies.  Teaching children proven decoding strategies provides them with a strong foundation to ensure reading success.  Decoding is the process of translating print into speech by rapidly matching letters (graphemes) to their sounds (phonemes) and recognizing the patterns and rules that make syllables and words.  Although there is a part of our brain that deals with language processing, about 30 percent of children do not access this part of their brain automatically and therefore must be taught decoding principles using explicit, systematic, and multisensory approaches and strategies. 

One decoding principle that can be tricky for children to master is learning the r-controlled vowel sounds ar, er, ir, or, and ur.  When a vowel is followed by an "r", the "r" changes the sound that the vowel makes.  Sometimes teachers refer to the "r" as "Bossy-r" as the "r" bosses the vowel to make a different sound. We hope you enjoy our Roll the Die game from our Wonderful Wizard of Oz bundle that reinforces this important decoding rule.  This game can be used as an ELA center, small group RTI intervention, or informal assessment. 

Hello there!  My name is Jessica and I am coming to you from Hanging Out in First!  I am so excited to be a part of this blog and to share with you so many wonderful reading resources.  The freebie that I am sharing with you is part of my phoneme segmentation pack.  Phonemic awareness is crucial for beginning readers.  It is the ability to manipulate phonemes, or sounds.  As a student learns to manipulate phonemes, they are then able to begin blending and encoding sounds as they read and write.  It helps students to see patterns within words and recognize chunks of sound. 

My phoneme segmentation pack is just one aspect of phonemic awareness.  In this pack, students will learn to segment sounds.  This means that they will begin taking the sounds apart, thus laying the groundwork for future writers!  This pack is just a sample of my larger phoneme segmentation packs in my TPT store. It includes Elkonin boxes for a push, say, sort activity, a graphing for sounds activity, some coloring for sounds pages, and a fluency page to help progress monitor phoneme segmentation fluency.  I hope that you can use this freebie and keep in touch with us as we share so many more valuable resources with you!!

Hi everyone! I am so delighted to be part of this wonderful collaborative group!

My freebie for you today is related to initial phonemes, or sounds. Research has shown that children learning to read must be able to manipulate phonemes in order to advance in their reading skills. Yes, first they must be able to identify those sound units, but manipulating them is important because readers need to remember them and compare those phonemes and the letter(s) that represent them. A reader needs to be able to pull out a single phoneme from a word they read and to compare and contrast  it with different letter sequences. For example, a child learning to read needs to be able to figure out that the initial phoneme in fall and phone is the same but they are represented by different letters.

With that being said, my freebie will have your students working on adding initial phonemes (sometimes we call these onsets) to word families (rimes). For example, a student will take the phoneme c and match it with ake to make cake. However, matching it to ack will not make a word. I am excited for your students to give it a try and I hope that the practice is fun for them and doesn't feel much like work! Thanks for stopping by our blog today!

We hope these ideas are useful in your classroom.
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