2 What?Not all words are regular, or can be read by sounding them out. An irregular word contains one or more sound/spelling correspondences that a student does not know and therefore cannot use to decode the word.Because students can’t sound out irregular words by applying their phonics knowledge, they have to learn to identify these words as wholes, or automatically by sight. Many of the most common (i.e., high-frequency) words in English are irregular.
3 What? There are two types of irregular words: 1. Permanently Irregular: One or more sound/spellings in the word are unique to that word or a few words and therefore are never introduced. E.g., said, of, one, two, been, could.2. Temporarily Irregular: One or more sound/spellings in the word have not yet been introduced. They may be irregular at one point in the reading program but may eventually become regular after all the sound/spellings in the word have been taught . E.g., for.
4 What?High-frequency words are regular and irregular words that appear often in printed text.See page , Most Frequent Words in School and College text table.
5 What?Only 100 words account for approximately 50 percent of words in text used in schools and colleges (Zeno et al. 1995). Out of this list of 100 high-frequency words, almost 25 percent are permanently irregular. These high-frequency irregular words appear often in printed text and therefore are crucial for comprehension.
6 What? Teaching Irregular Word Reading The set of irregular words selected for instruction is generally drawn from the upcoming stories, passages, or other connected texts that students will be reading. The more difficult an irregular word, the more practice is necessary.There are two factors to determine the difficulty of an irregular word.1. The number of irregularities in the pronunciation of its sound/spelling correspondences.2. Whether or not the word is in a student’s oral vocabulary.Word Banks and Word Walls provide a method for teachers to organize irregular words that have been taught so students can practice them.
7 What? Sequence of Introduction Word Frequency: Introduce high-frequency irregular words before low-frequency irregular words.Word Similarity: Some pairs of irregular words are easily confused and should not be introduced too close to each other, such as of—off, there—their and were—where.Word relationship: Some pairs of irregular words belong to the same word family; they contain similar letter patterns, or phonograms. Irregular words that have a phonogram in common, such as could, should, and would should be introduced in sets.
8 Why?Beginning readers do not learn irregular words as quickly or accurately as regular words. They tend to read these words more slowly and inaccurately. This makes it important to provide explicit instruction and systematic practice.If developing readers cannot instantly identify [high-frequency] words, they are unlikely to become fluent because of the widespread presence of these words. –PIKULSKI, 2006
9 When?When to TeachIrregular words need to be systematically introduced in a reasonable order, practiced, and then cumulatively reviewed. Introduce irregular words after students can read regular CVC words at a rate of about one word every three seconds.
10 When? When to Assess and Intervene -For students performing at or above grade level, monitor progress every four to six weeks.-Students slightly below grade level, monitor progress every two weeks.-Monitor student progress weekly for those who are significantly below grade level.
11 When? Guidelines for Teaching Irregular Words Introduce high-frequency words before low frequency.Do not introduce too many words at once.Introduce new words before they appear in connected text.Cumulatively review previously taught words every day.Provide opportunities for students to use the words.
12 How? Sound-Out Strategy The sound-out strategy for introducing irregular words is based on a format described in Teaching Struggling and At-Risk Readers: A Direct Instruction Approach (Carnine et al. 2006).According to the authors of this book, the procedure for introducing the first 15 to 25 irregular words should require students to examine all the letters in a word and then point out the irregularity in one or more of the word’s sound/spelling correspondences.
13 How?Sound Out StrategyIntroduce Irregular Words. See lesson model on p2. Practice Irregular words. See lesson model on p. 253.3. Word Reading Practice for Automaticity. See lesson model on p4. Apply Decodable Text.To ensure ample practice of irregular words, provide students with connected reading materials. Choose books or passages in which most of the words are wholly decodable and the majority of the remaining words are previously taught irregular words.
14 How? Spell-Out Strategy The spell-out strategy for introducing irregular words is based on a format described in SIPPS (Shefelbine and Newman 2004). This sample lesson on p. 255 targets words that are irregular at one point in a reading program but may not be irregular permanently.1.Introduce Irregular Words. See lesson model on p2. Practice Irregular Words. See lesson model on p. 256.3. Word Reading Practice for Automaticity. See lesson model on p. 256 and 257.4. Apply to Decodable Text. See lesson model for Reading Decodable Text, p. 235.
15 Conclusion…children don’t learn “irregular” words as easily or quickly as they do “regular” words…Therefore, children need to be taught “irregular” high-frequency words with explicit instruction. -BLEVINS, 2006
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