“Sound it out!” Once students are beyond kindergarten, this isn’t always the best advice, especially for struggling readers. I believe that this is teaching students to read letter by letter and they aren’t being taught to use meaning or chunking strategies.
There are so many times we get new first graders at my building, and they read letter by letter. /S/ /H/ /I/ /P/ is what they try to say for ship. They look at me because they can't figure out what /S/ /H/ /I/ /P/ is. It makes no sense.
To help struggling readers that are in reading intervention chunk words, I created thesecards. The dots represent sounds or clusters of sounds (bigger dots). Students read the sounds, then read through the entire word.
When students are first learning to blend, they have to read each sound. However, this phase shouldn’t last for long. The goal is to get students reading onset and rime. There are cvc word cards that have 2 dots; one for the onset and one for the rime.
There are also long vowel words that students can practice. They have a line over the long vowel. Notice the dot is missing over the silent “e” in the words. If there are vowel teams, they are combined with one dot.
Then I made a set of short and long vowel blends and digraphs. By this time, students should not be reading letter by letter and should be able to chunk the words. I understand that blends such as fr, br, sl, sm, etc. are not diagraphs and make a new sound, but I don’t want students back tracking to reading letter by letter.
Finally, there are 16 different cards that are perfect to use if you teach phonics by analogy. For example, if you can read ‘rent’ then you should be able to read: sent, went, tent, went, etc.
Once we practice a family of words, I have each student make up a sentence. I write them on a sentence strip and then they cut them up and practice assembling their sentence.
When we are reading and students get stuck on a word that I’ve taught the rule. I’ll use the following prompts:
“Let’s try to chunk this word.”
“What would make sense that starts with *?” I’ll say the beginning sound. Then we check and see if that could be right.