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How to Do Sound-by-Sound Spelling Blending

Learning how to do sound-by-sound spelling blending takes a bit of practice. Position your students such that your body does not obstruct their views of the board. Use black or blue markers for the consonant sounds and red or orange for the vowels. Write blanks to indicate spellings that require other sounds before or after in the same syllable.

Each day, begin the class by blending two or three words from the previous day’s sound-by-sound spelling blending activity. Then, introduce three to six new words from a carefully planned instructional sequence that conforms to the instructional sequence criteria that follows. Make sure to clip, and not elongate, the consonant sounds. For example, don’t say “bah” for /b/. Follow this script for effective whole-class sound-by-sound spelling blending:

  • Teacher: “You say and blend the sounds I write to make words. First, I write the spelling; then you say the sound. For example, if I write m [Do so], I will ask, ‘Sound?’ and you will answer ‘/m/.’ Let’s add on to that sound. [Write a on the board after m.] ‘Sound?'” [If students say long a, ask “Short sound?”
  • Students: “/a/”
  • Teacher: [Make a left-to-right blending motion under the ma.] “Blend.”
  • Teacher and Students: /m/ /a/ [Blend the two sounds]
  • Teacher: [Write t on the blank.] “Sound?”
  • Students: /t/
  • Teacher: [Make a left-to-right blending motion under the mat.] “Blend.”
  • Teacher and Students: /m/ /a/ /t/ [Blend the three sounds]
  • Teacher: “Word?”
  • Students: “mat”

Instructional Sequence Criteria

  1. The Sound-by-Sound Spelling Blending sequence of instruction has been carefully designed to reflect years of reading research and teaching experience. Criteria include the following:
  2. The most common sounds are introduced prior to the least common sounds.
  3. Order of instruction separates letters that are visually similar e.g., p and b, m and n, v and w, u and n.
  4. Order of instruction separates sounds that are similar e.g., /k/ and /g/, /u/ and /o/, /t/ and /d/, /e/ and /i/.
  5. The most commonly used letters are introduced prior to the least commonly used letters.
  6. Short words with fewer phonemes are introduced prior to longer words with more phonemes.
  7. Continuous sounds e.g., /a/, /m/, are introduced prior to stop sounds e.g., /t/ because the continuous sounds are easier to blend.

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive reading intervention curriculum, Teaching Reading StrategiesDesigned to significantly increase the reading abilities of students ages eight through adult within one year, the curriculum is decidedly un-canned, is adaptable to various instructional settings, and is simple to use–a perfect choice for Response to Intervention tiered instruction. The program provides multiple-choice diagnostic reading and spelling assessments (many with audio files), phonemic awareness activities, blending and syllabication activitiesphonics workshops with formative assessments, 102 spelling pattern worksheets, comprehension worksheets, multi-level fluency passages recorded at three different reading speeds and accessed on YouTube, 644 reading, spelling, and vocabulary game cards, posters, activities, and games.

Also get the accompanying Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books. These 54 decodable eBooks (includes print-ready and digital display versions) have been designed for older readers with teenage cartoon characters and plots. Each book introduces focus sight words and phonics sound-spellings aligned to the instructional sequence found in Teaching Reading Strategies. Plus, each book has a 30-second word fluency to review previously learned sight words and sound-spelling patterns, five higher-level comprehension questions, and an easy-to-use running record. Your students will love these fun, heart-warming, and comical stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also that crazy dog, Pug.

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books BUNDLE

Teaching Reading Strategies and Sam and Friends Guided Reading Phonics Books

Or why not get both programs as a discounted BUNDLE? Everything teachers need to teach an assessment-based reading intervention program for struggling readers is found in this comprehensive curriculum. Ideal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, tiered response to intervention programs, ESL, ELL, ELD, and special education students. Simple directions, YouTube training videos, and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program.

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