Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Blending Bigger Words

Right around the 100th day of school many if not most of the class has mastered the basic 41 Soundabet sounds. Our emphasis shifts to blending the sounds we know into words we recognize.

For some children it is best to begin with very easy words, mostly three-letter consonant/vowel/consonant words like "hid" and "fix."

But there is NO reason to confine the words you give students to blend to such simple (and often boring) words.

In fact it can be counterproductive to go too slowly because you will lose the brighter, quicker learners.

With the Soundabet onboard, you can practice CVC words that include one or more digraphs. Words like "north" are easily decodable for kids who have the decided advantage of having learned the Soundabet.

And more.

There is no reason to confine yourself to one syllable words. I have found that a lot of kids in my class enjoy the delicious challenge and satisfaction of tackling multisyllablic words.

Here is what the pocket chart in my kindergarten classroom after a ten-minute session of blending words.

At the top are those easy three-letter CVC words. We used them as warm-ups.

Things got a lot more fun for them when I challenged them to read "complicated" "northern" and "california"—words that they read with ease and great pleasure.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sometimes My Students Are My Teachers

When I was a youngster back in the 50’s school was hard for me. I struggled in almost every subject—the 3 R’s especially—and I was keenly aware that many of my classmates found school easier than I did. I liked lunchtime, P.E., recess, and, when no reading was involved, science.

My difficulties in language arts had a lot to do with inspiring me to come up with Soundabet. A tool like Soundabet ought to make it easier for teachers to show the code that underlies reading and writing. If Soundabet could save other kids from struggling like I did, then it was worth going to the trouble of bringing it into the world.

Of course, not every kid struggles with language arts. For some kids, reading and writing come naturally.

Friday I was taking one of my English language learner through the mid-year DIBELS benchmark assessments. I was working on the test that is said to measure how many letters a student can name in 60 seconds. 

The page I was working on looks like this.

I gave him the scripted instructions and started the stopwatch.

“Karate.” I thought I heard him say.

“What?” I asked him, thinking that he had misunderstood the directions.

“Karate!” I thought I heard him say again, though it sounded like it ended in the “D” sound, more like “karoddy” than “karate.” 

He pointed to the top line, and drew his finger across the first five letters (C-R-O-D-Y) and blended them into a make-believe word, “Crody.” 

He couldn’t understand why his answer confused me. 

Sometimes it takes me a little while to catch up with my students.