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The Spelling Scholar: Word Study as the Foundation of Reading

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1 The Spelling Scholar: Word Study as the Foundation of Reading
Agenda Background Common Core Standards Vowel Concepts/Teaching Ideas Alphabetic Layer Pattern Layer Meaning Layer Other Vowel Stories Questions? Eileen Mattmann Rosanne Cowan Eileen Mattmann and Rosanne Cowan are two teachers who, after experiencing frustrations with spelling instruction, authored The Spelling Scholar, a word study program that is based on current research and meets the Common Core Standards. For further information about the authors and the program, visit We are coming at this from a word study approach. We will put some reason, stories and visuals behind certain spelling combinations to help your students. In 1900 teaching spelling went out of fashion. Then around 1926 it was taught again, but only as an isolated skill and mostly a visual task, because it depended on rote learning. It has been taught this same way since 1926. “Spelling is the foundation of reading and the greatest ornament of writing.” –Noah Webster

2 Word Study Makes a Difference
Explicit word study instruction and inquiry learning enhance acquisition of reading. Word structure and analysis helps build fluency (alphabetic and pattern layers) Understanding affixes and roots contributes to vocabulary growth (pattern and meaning layers) Fluency and vocabulary increase comprehension. According to the article “How Words Cast Their Spell,” in the American Educator Winter 2008/09, “spelling instruction underpins reading success by creating an awareness of the sounds that make up words and the letters that spell those sounds. As children learn to spell, their knowledge of words improves and reading becomes easier.” Word structure and analysis Vowel pairs depend on position—au/aw, oi/oy, ou/ow, etc. autumn, sauce, claw, lawn, hawk, bawl Base words and affixes – compete/competition, etc. Greek and Latin Roots – inject, eject, project, interject Application of learning to a large number of words

3 How Predictable is Spelling?
Three Layers Alphabetic Layer Sound/letter relationship Pattern Layer Spelling patterns, rules and inflected endings Meaning Layer Homophones, contractions, affixes, Greek and Latin word parts, word origins letter/sound relationship (50%) Letter patterns and inflected endings (34%) Prefixes, suffixes, homophones, Greek and Latin roots: learning the history of the language helps understand spelling and meaning. Example “wr” words, Anglo-Saxon were basic survival, Latin/Greek are science, French are law and philosophy (12%) Focus for this talk is: long and short vowels and diphthongs (pattern layer) with additional quick strategies for other patterns at the end.

4 Moving from Alphabetic to Meaning
Alphabetic Layer-sound/letter correspondence Pattern Layer- base words and endings, vowel teams, position, rules Meaning Layer-contractions, homophones, homonyms, homographs, roots and affixes, word origins The manner in which children learn to speak, read, and write are the same. They begin with letter sounds, combine the letter sounds to make words and then put the words together to make sense and have meaning. The article, “Teaching Reading is Rocket Science” states, “The language skills that most reliably distinguish good and poor readers are specific to the phonological or speech sound processing system. Those skills include awareness of linguistic units that lie within a word (consonants, vowels, syllables, grammatical endings, meaningful parts, and the spelling units that represent them) and fluency in recognition and recall of letters and spelling patterns that make up words. Homonym (multiple meaning word—”bear” has many meanings) Homophone—sounds alike, spelled differently (sail, sale) Homograph (heteronym)—same spelling, different pronunciation (wound/wound, dove/dove) jumpt, stade, wouldent

5 Great Vowel Shift Move from Middle English to Modern English ( ) Blending of French and English Vowels sounded as they do in the romance languages Spellings stayed the same as in Middle English Vowel sounds start to shift at different rates Some spellings changed, some didn’t Printing press instrumental in locking in spellings Vowel sounds constantly changing-dependent on area of country Why are vowels so important? We have approximately 40 sounds in our language and 26 letters. These 6 letters in various combinations are responsible for half of those sounds. Their combinations and position in words is essential to understanding the sounds for reading and spelling words correctly. Language of origin also plays a role into which vowel or vowel combination to use when writing a word. It’s no wonder that students have difficulty choosing the correct sound, flipping the vowel sound to a different one, or which combination of letters to use when reading and writing. Knowing the patterns and That’s why we chose to look at vowels and hopefully do a little taming of them for you today. Regional accents affect the pronunciation of vowels, but their spelling will remain the same according to established patterns and rules (like “one vowel means it’s short”).

6 Vowel Spellings “ough” combination - 10 pronunciations
cough, through, dough, bough, slough (slaw, sluff) Each standardized at a different time during the Great Vowel Shift, causing the confusion that we have today. Long /e/ - 23 different spellings eat, debris, fleet, field, happy, key, deceit, people, mete rarely said incorrectly, and occurs early in children’s speech Short /i/ - 33 different spellings hit, myth, sieve, busy, building, pretty more difficult for children and non-native speakers to master the short "i" sound. For this reason word study is more beneficial to students than spelling. The difference is that spelling is memorizing lists of words with little or no carry over into reading and writing. Word study on the other hand requires students to look at patterns, learn rules, and be able to apply these patterns and rules to a large number of words both in reading and writing.

7 Alphabetic Layer-Common Core
Kindergarten Rhyming words, blending onsets and rimes, isolate and pronounce C-V-C pattern, spell simple words phonetically Grade 1 Long and short vowels, every syllable has a vowel Spell untaught words phonetically There are many other Common Core standards that are met by teaching word study and that support reading than those presented here. Our focus is on the vowels and are using those standards in this presentation.

8 Pattern Layer-Common Core
Kindergarten Identify long and short vowels -2 vowels vs. 1 vowel Grade 1 Know final “e” and common long vowel letter teams, open and closed syllables, every syllable has a vowel, spell untaught words phonetically Identify root word to add ending Grade 2 Know spelling/sound correspondences for common vowel teams Generalize learned spelling patterns when writing words (e.g., cage →badge; boy →boil). Some of these ideas tie to the Common Core in a lower level but are related to lessons in upper levels.

9 Pattern Layer-Common Core
Grade 3 Use conventional spelling for high-frequency and other studied words and for adding suffixes to base words (e.g., sitting, smiled, cries, happiness). Use spelling patterns and generalizations (e.g., word families, position-based spellings, syllable patterns). Recognize word structure in reading, apply it in writing (suffix rules, meaningful word parts). Grade 4-6 Spell correctly. We will be talking mainly about vowel teams and how the position in the word is important. By grade 4 they are expecting students to apply everything that is learned, but that doesn’t mean they won’t need lessons on these skills and additional practice on many of these concepts, but with more difficult words.

10 Meaning Layer-Common Core
Grade 2 Use an apostrophe to form contractions. Know final -e and common vowel team conventions for representing long vowel sounds. (Gr. 1-2) (Homophones) Grade 4-6 Homophones (bare, bear; meddle, medal) Word origin Spell grade appropriate words correctly (Optional comment) Homonym (multiple meaning word—”bear” has many meanings) Homophone—sounds alike, spelled differently (sail, sale) Homograph (heteronym)—same spelling, different pronunciation (wound/wound, dove/dove)

11 Alphabetic Layer Concepts
Introducing the “magical” vowels Vowels make you keep your mouth open Vowels and word families Young children often write the first and last sounds of a word. They aren’t recognizing that there is a vowel sound in the word. I introduce vowels as being magical because they make more than one sound and they make you keep your mouth open. The consonants are what closes the mouth either with your lips closed or by use of the tongue on the roof of the mouth. By telling children that every word (or syllable as their words get longer) needs at least one vowel, and that when they say a word and their mouth is open they are saying the vowel, it will help them combine sounds and recognize the word when reading. Sound button—word families are a good way to start children blending sounds after they have learned the letter sounds. Building and working with rhyming words helps them know more words quickly and also teaches them to look at the vowel and the next letter(s). You can even have children say only the first 2 sounds and not close the word. Put games on website

12 Vowels and Word Families
Some ways for children to practice. In the beginning in depth practice with a word family such as sorting pictures and words, then use the pictures without the word cards and write the names of the pictures, make words with beginning sounds and rimes or use only letter cards is important. Then you can use distributed practice afterwards like changing vowel sounds or first or last letters in a word to make new sounds. Older students (second grade) can make word ladders where they start with one word and continue to change it, or are given a starting and an ending word. Younger children can do this if they are given clues.

13 Alphabetic Layer Concepts
Word Builder Cards Identifying long and short vowel sounds- Long and Short of It Game Long vowels in the alphabetic layer “o” and “i” can be long with one vowel in word (gold, mild, find) b You don’t need cards. The idea is to draw 5 lines, cover each with a marker-a button or unifix cube. When given a word, they say the word aloud to themselves and move the marker up for each sound they hear. Then they write the word. Help children by indicating the number of cubes they’ll move. For blends like “ch” 2 unifix cubes can be stacked. Big Idea: What difference does it make whether the child can distinguish between long and short vowels or when a vowel in a word is long or short? Being able to hear, see, and know whether a vowel makes a long or short sound is important in reading. It also affects which consonants are used to spell sounds in many words. Describe long and short of it game. In reading and writing, one vowel suggests you try a short vowel, two suggest you try a long vowel.

14 Pattern Layer Concepts
Long or short vowel? tch, ch dge, ge Short vowels-have three consonants at the end. In tch/ch, use the t. In a word like “bench,” the “n” is the third vowel. -dge has two consonants and silent e (so “e” doesn’t have power over the vowel). In “fringe,” the “n” is the second consonant. Words like much, such, rich are Old English. The 100 most common words we use are all Old English with an old spelling and more modern pronunciations. Concepts can be introduced with a cartoon and then some sort of comparison of words that focus on the skill. Here’s an example of a cartoon.

15 Open Word Sorts: Inquiry Lesson
c/ck/k The open sort- What do you notice? How should we group? Let’s make a rule. comic pack seek trick attic panic speak look ask tuck blank soak duck traffic music milk Vowels also affect which ending you use in words. Here’s an example. Talk about open sorts as inquiry learning. When students develop their own ideas through comparison and discussion they will remember the concept better than if a teacher just says here’s the reason. Why inquiry based learning? Research on teaching spelling says that explicit instruction is necessary for student learning. Just because students see the differences between the words in sort categories doesn’t mean they will intuit a generalization that will stay with them and allow them to apply their knowledge to other words.

16 Completed Sort Words end in “ck” Words end in “c” Words end in “k”
pack comic seek trick attic peak duck panic soak music look The same sort completed. When do words end with “ck?” Short vowel-1vowel-1 syllable “c?” two syllable “k?” 2 vowels/one syllable Make follows the rule- 2 vowels but silent e follows the “k”, trunk, ask and milk end with “k” because there is another consonant before the k. Basically when a short vowel, one syllable word ends with the /k/ sound it needs 2 consonants at the end. When only one is heard you spell with “ck.” 2 syllables, and end of first syllable “c” if the beginning of the next syllable is a consonant as in picnic and arctic; “ck” if the next syllable begins with a vowel and in words that end with the /ul/ sound like in pickle. The reason is that the last syllable when read actually starts with a vowel sound. What about words like make, trunk, ask, and milk? What about picnic, arctic, and jacket?

17 Pattern Layer Concepts
Open and Closed Syllables Reminding students about syllables and breaks in words helps them spell and read. An open syllable ends with a vowel and generally has one consonant in the middle. Remember how we said a vowel usually makes you keep your mouth open. It isn’t closed off with a consonant. Try a long vowel sound when reading. The word is divided into syllables after the vowel. Two vowels in the middle as in riot-divide between the vowels. If there are 2 consonants in the word, the word is usually divided between these two consonants. It is sometimes referred to as the “rabbit rule.” It can also be 2 different consonants as in basket. This will help students because if they see 2 consonants in the middle they should try a short vowel sound in the first syllable. This will help most of the time. There are words like lemon and novel that don’t follow this rule. But if students know to follow the rule and then if the word doesn’t make sense they should flip the vowel sound that’s a good start. The picture of the open and closed doors is a visual that may help many students remember this rule. Rabbit Rule

18 Pattern Layer Concepts
Common vowel teams (long vowel sounds) Ai, a-silent e, ay Ee, ea i-silent e Oa, o-silent e ue, ew, u-silent e These are considered the common vowel teams in the common core standards. Children are taught that a silent e at the end of the word makes the vowel long. Many people also use the when 2 vowels go a walking the first does the talking. I told a student in a reading group that means the first vowel says get out of here, I’m going to say my name. The child asked, “What is it’s name?” We already noted that “I” and “o” can make a long vowel sound without help from another vowel. Long “U” makes 2 sounds: “oo” as in flew, and “u” as in mule. Many words with long vowels have homophones, like see/sea. Then the meaning layer comes into play. Letter combinations for dividing words into syllables. Schwa in unaccented syllables, prefix “a” and /ul/ The silent e in the last syllable provides the vowel needed for the syllable: circle, not circl Look up lists of homophones on web Use our list or look up list of heteronyms on web—especially if you want more difficult ones.

19 “I” Before “E” When sounding like ē, it’s i before e, Except after c,
And when sounding like ā as in neighbor, ī as in height, or ĭ as in foreign. Advanced vowel pairs (ie, ei) Teaching the entire rule means there will be fewer exceptions.

20 “I Before E” These are ways to practice the concept and also test the concept. Spelling tests don’t have to be a memorized list. From here on we will continue to show options for practice and testing that will require the student to think and apply learning. There will be greater carry over to writing and reading than with a memorized list of words.

21 Other Vowel Teams Vowel pairs(oy/oi)
This is an example of inquiry based lessons for 2 different grade levels. Students look at words, discuss the question and come up with a conclusion about when to use oi and when to use oy. What about oyster? Oy is used because that’s the end of the syllable. The teacher is there to guide the students and to make sure their conclusions are correct.

22 Try It! These concepts can be taken to different grade levels depending on the words used. The sort can be used with good spellers to expand their vocabulary. After completing a sort like this, where students look for the letters spelling the sound, a more challenging sort is a “Hear It” sort. Students work with partners. One person reads the words while the other person listens and determines which is the correct column. Address keeping the columns in the same place for different types of learners.

23 Other Vowel Teams Vowel pairs (au/aw/al)
Address the fact that it is just “a” but when followed by an “l” it says /aw/-not really “al” TALK from Middle English-talken

24 Another Vowel Pair Vowel pair (au/aw)
Au and aw can be found at the beginning of words. General rule is the end of syllables, but words like autumn don’t follow that rule.

25 Try It! Practice and test ideas.

26 Vowel Pair Vowel pairs (ou/ow)
Similar exercises and tests can be done with this vowel pair. We aren’t showing an inquiry lesson here, but again position in the word and the letter to follow is important. Why is around spelled with “ou?” Because the /ou/ sound is followed by “nd,” not just an “n.” See the vowel pairs together like this will help young children know that even if there’s a different spelling they are still say the same sound.

27 Powerful Silent “e” givving/giving, havving/having, lovving/loving
Makes a long vowel CVCe (make) Words don’t end in “i” or “u” (lie, blue) Clarifies meaning, pleas/please CVCCe Makes “c” and “g” soft, dance, prince, cringe, badge Reading-Watch for 2 consonants before the silent e. Changes the sound of the last consonant (tens/tense) Words that end with /v/ give, have, love, givving/giving, havving/having, lovving/loving Provides a needed vowel in a syllable These are some roles of “silent e.” Remember that most often when a silent e is separated from the first vowel by 2 consonants, the first consonant is usually short. The next slide is an example of providing the vowel in the word.--/ul/ sound

28 “The Spelling Scholar” Unit: Discovery and Discussion
“le” “el” “al” “il” title single level mammal civil tickle maple channel pencil handle simple camel Look at the words in the top row. How are the underlined letters alike? Tall letters are called sticks. What letters follow these tall letters or sticks? le Look at the second row of words. How are the underlined letters alike? The letters that hang below the line are called tails. What letters follow these tails? Le Now look at the third row. How are the underlined letters alike? They are not tall or hanging below the line. Conclusion: letters that are tall or hang below the line (sticks or tails) end in “le.” M, n, and v are never followed by “le” Nickel is an exception. In following this rule, students will spell 70% of words ending with the /ul/ sound correctly. The remaining words are spelled with “el” or “al.” The “il” spelling is rare. Sometimes young students don’t know how to pronounce the “le” etc. as they read. Seeing these together will help them understand that all these endings are pronounced or read the same way. Why Discovery? Research on teaching spelling says that explicit instruction is necessary for student learning. Just because students see the differences between the words in sort categories doesn’t mean they will intuit a generalization that will stay with them and allow them to apply their knowledge to other words.


30 Pattern Layer Concepts
Inflected endings Suffixes that don’t change the meaning of the base word or the part of speech Nouns-plural (desks, beaches) Verbs-tenses (plays, played, playing) Adjectives-comparative/superlative (fancy, fancier, fanciest) Contained in the dictionary base word entry Define inflected endings for verbs, nouns, adjectives. Inflected endings are in the main entry. Other endings are separate entries (i.e. encourages, encouraging, encouraged; encouragement is separate) Use lesson cartoons and discovery charts, etc. (silent e, hop/hope gr.3) Sorts with endings not added Three sounds of “ed.” stopped (t), played (d), rugged (ed). “Ed” makes a separate syllable after the letters “t” and “d.”

31 Find the Base Word hopping vs. hoping 1-1-1 Rule or V-C
Children need to understand base word plus ending rather than looking at each word by itself. The same as there are word families to learn in kindergarten and first grade there are other word families to learn in the upper grades. These are the base words with the endings that can be added. Doubling rule-top graphic rule stands for 1 syllable, 1 vowel, 1 consonant at the end of the word-then double. Another way to look at one syllable word is to start with the vowel and if it’s a VC pattern, double. Silent e rule; e doesn’t mind being next to a consonant so we keep the e. It doesn’t like being near it’s vowel friends, so it leaves, hence we drop the e when adding a suffix that starts with a vowel.

32 Silent “e:” Find the Base Word
What happens when we want to add a suffix to a base word that ends in silent “e?” pile + ed = piled mule + ish = mulish dive + ing = diving broke + en = broken Inquiry lesson sample. Introduction can be made with a cartoon. Then students compare correct spellings, discuss questions and hypothesize a conclusion. What happens if we add a suffix that begins with a consonant to a base word that ends in silent “e?” wire + less = wireless huge + ly = hugely care + ful = careful

33 Practice Examples of ways to practice and test that require students to think about the word. That’s what word study is all about. Thinking and applying. If students don’t realize the e was dropped before adding the suffix they may not recognize it as the same word, therefore not getting the meaning.

34 Practice separately hugely admiration achievement deleted amusement
Drop “e” Keep “e” huge + ly separate + ly surprise + ing admire + ation achieve + ment commute + er delete + ed amuse + ment double + ing bubble + ing trouble + ed engage + ment Drop “e” Keep “e” separately hugely admiration achievement deleted amusement commuter engagement A word sort can BE the discovery lesson, or the discovery lesson can be observation, thinking, and discussing as shown in this example. Then the sort follows as students APPLY their knowledge. In the bottom table, this sort is complete. It requires students to think about how to add these endings in order to sort correctly. If the suffixes were already added, the students could sort without much thinking.

35 Inflected Endings Y to I
Here’s another example of a discovery or inquiry based lesson for changing the y to i. Practice can be made that’s similar to the practice seen for the silent e rule.

36 Pattern Layer Concepts
Other Spellings for Vowels Here we’re talking about different sounds for the letter ‘Y.” Older children are looking at different sounds for “ea,” “y,” “o,” and “ou.”

37 Pattern Layer Concepts
e, i, y: softens “c” and “g” This is another concept that greatly affects reading. E,I,Y: not hard and fast, especially for “g.”

38 Pattern Layer Concepts
e, i, y: softens “c” and “g”

39 Meaning Layer Concepts
Word Origin-Words from French A long a sound at the end of a word can be spelled: with et as in cachet, crochet, and croquet. A long e sound at the end of a word: ie as in prairie and sortie. Words ending with an \zh\ sound: spelled age as in collage, mirage, dressage, garage, barrage, camouflage, entourage, and fuselage. A \k\ sound at the end of a word is often spelled que as in mystique, boutique, and physique. Words from Greek Spell short i with “y” as in acronym, calypso, cryptic, cynical, dyslexia, homonym, Olympian, polymer, symbiosis, synonym, synopsis, and syntax.

40 More Thinking Strategies as Stories
England always doubles (labeled vs. labelled) Mnemonics (ight, ould, aught, ought) Words with short U, spelled with O (love, come) luve/love, cume/come homophones (meddle, medal).

41 Websites (build word lists) (list of roots and meanings) (list of roots and meanings) General Student Practice Sites (practice games for your list or theirs) (more challenging games; your list or theirs, very easy to difficult) (word family work) (many games) (many games) (word sorts provided or make your own) also has lets teachers monitor student progress and word finder are not on handout.

42 “When children are taught to think about language, it allows them to learn HOW to spell, not just memorize words.” (Moats, 2009)

43 Resources Developmental-Spelling Research: A systematic Imperative, Marcia Invernizzi, Latisha Hayes, Reading Research Quarterly, 2004 How Spelling Supports Reading, Louisa Moats, American Educator, How Words Cast Their Spell, Malatesha R. Joshi,, American Educator, Questions Teachers Ask About Spelling, Shane Templeton, Darrell Morris, Reading Research Quarterly, 1999 Why Spelling is Important and How to Teach It Effectively, V. Berninger & M. Fayol, Encyclopedia of Language and Literacy Development, 2008 Word Study Instruction in the K-2 Classroom, Cheryl Williams,, The Reading Teacher, April 2009

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