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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 Strategies. Designed 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 instructional levels. Get multiple choice diagnostic reading assessments , formative assessments, blending and syllabication activitiesphonemic awareness, and phonics workshops, comprehension worksheets, multi-level fluency passages recorded at three different reading speeds and accessed on YouTube, 586game cards, posters, activities, and games.

Also get the accompanying Sam and Friends Phonics Books. These eight-page decodable take-home books include sight words, word fluency practice, and phonics instruction aligned to the instructional sequence found in

Pennington Publishing's Teaching Reading Strategies

Teaching Reading Strategies

. Each book is illustrated by master cartoonist, David Rickert. The cartoons, characters, and plots are designed to be appreciated by both older remedial readers and younger beginning readers. The teenage characters are multi-ethnic and the stories reinforce positive values and character development. Your students (and parents) 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.

Everything teachers need to teach a diagnostically-based reading intervention program for struggling readers at all reading levels is found in this comprehensive curriculum. Ideal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, English-language learners, and Special Education students. Simple directions and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program, with or without paraprofessional assistance.

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