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
- 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:
- The most common sounds are introduced prior to the least common sounds.
- Order of instruction separates letters that are visually similar e.g., p and b, m and n, v and w, u and n.
- Order of instruction separates sounds that are similar e.g., /k/ and /g/, /u/ and /o/, /t/ and /d/, /e/ and /i/.
- The most commonly used letters are introduced prior to the least commonly used letters.
- Short words with fewer phonemes are introduced prior to longer words with more phonemes.
- Continuous sounds e.g., /a/, /m/, are introduced prior to stop sounds e.g., /t/ because the continuous sounds are easier to blend.
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