If we can just get students to understand patterns and sounds, they will never have difficulty with writing or decoding, right? Learning long vowel and other vowel patterns make a big difference with kids’ ability to read and especially, decode new words. Teaching students to use patterns and sounds is the goal of the Within Word Stage and the focus of today’s post.
Consider this Quote:
“Sometimes I spell words so wrong that even
auto-correct is like, “I’ve got nothing man!”
You’ve Assessed them. Now what?
What do Within Word Spellers Look Like?
Within Word pattern spellers spell most short vowel sounds correctly and are representing blends, digraphs, and pre-consonantal nasals completely. Spellers ready for the within word stage are beginning to include silent vowels to mark long vowel sounds. These markers will be “used but confused” as in SMOAK for smoke, LITE for Light, TRALE for trail, SHIPE for ship, etc. Within word pattern spellers are readers who have observed silent letters within the words they are learning to read. They are putting together that patterns, as well as sound, rule how words are spelled in our language.
What’s Taught in this Stage?
The within word pattern stage is a long one that extends from late first grade to the middle grades in general. Remember that struggling readers as well as learning disabled students may enter/complete the within word stage later than the norm, but ALL students work through the stages in the same order. Word sorts are what we call the spelling list, and they are organized in a spiraling fashion where the student compares known patterns to the unknown, so there is constantly reinforcement of prior teaching. This solidifies understanding and helps the student apply their knowledge in reading and writing.
Long Vowel Patterns
We begin the WW (Within Word) stage, with the CVCe pattern and contrast them with short vowel patterns using both pictures (which focuses attention on the sounds) and word cards (which reveals the spelling patterns). When working with word cards, try to include a sort that compares the sounds (such as short A and long A). Once the CVCe pattern is understood, we then move on to other long vowel patters such as A-E, AI, and AY.
Below is a suggested sequence for the study of common vowel patterns:
- A with model words: hat and make
- A with model words: hat, make, and rain
- A with model words: hat, make, rain, and may
- O with model words: pot and nose
- O with model words: pot, nose, and boat
- O with model words: pot, nose, boat, and so
- I with model words: sit and like
- I with model words: sit, like, and fly
- I with model words: sit, like, fly, and light
- E with model words: pet and meet
- E with model words:pet, meet, and seat
- E with model words: pet, meet, seat, and me
- E with model words: pet, meet, seat, me, and pea
- U with model words:rug and cute
- U with model words: rug, cute, and suit
- U with model words: rug, cute, and blue
These pattern options are suggestions, but certainly, base your instruction on the needs of your students. You may find that you’re able to combine two vowel patterns together such as A and I (CVC/CVCe patterns). You will gauge the speed in which you progress through the stage on your students’ application of their pattern knowledge.
The long vowel patterns we include in this stage include the following:
- A (ai, ay, ei, ea, ei)
- E (e, ee, ea, ie, y)
- I (igh, y, iCC, i)
- O (oa, oe, o, oCC, ow)
- U (ew, ue, ui, eu)
- U (u, ue, oo, ei, ew, ui
R-Controlled Vowel Patterns
*When* you teach R controlled vowels is really teacher choice. Some prefer to teach r controlled vowels after teaching the CVCe pattern. I have chosen to focus on all of the long vowel patterns and then work in r controlled vowels. I find that comparing /ar/ to CVC and long vowel patterns makes the sound more distinguishable. If you prefer teaching simple r controlled patterns before other long vowel patterns, you could follow these comparisons.
Complex Consonant Clusters
Further study of consonant sounds will take place in this stage. Complex consonant clusters include three types: (1) three-consonant blends (scr, tch), (2) two-consonant units that result in the sound of one sound (ck, kn, gn), and (3) consonant/vowel units (dge). Vowels are influenced not only by silent vowel markers, but by consonant markers. For example, CK follows ONLY short vowel, and students learn that silent E can mark not only vowels but consonant sounds. E marks the letters G and C to form the soft sound in words. Here is the focus for this feature.
- three-consonant clusters
- two-consonant units that result in the sound of a letter
- consonant and vowel units
- k, qu, squ
- tch, ch
- st, str, th, thr
- gn, kn
- dge, ge
- sp, spl, spr
- mb, wr
- sc, scr, sh, shr
As you work through this feature, there are a few important teaching points you will want to be aware of. Consonant digraphs are two consonants together that make only one sound, and consonant blends are two or three consonants together with EACH letter sound voiced. It’s important that teachers are clear on the terminology so that terms are accurately communicated with parents and students. I’ve observed teachers not actually knowing the difference between them and calling a digraph a blend and confusing diphthongs with digraphs. Now, I’ll throw in another confusing point. There is such as thing as a digraph blend. It is a consonant digraph attached to another consonant such as thr or shr. The digraph makes one sound and the consonant makes another sound, and did you know that the digraph wh can only come at the beginning of a word and the digraph ck can ONLY come after a short vowel and at the end of a syllable or word. Wow…that is a LOT to absorb, so take baby steps with your kids.
There are also a few important rules with our soft consonant sounds. The letter g will make the sound of /j/ and c will make the sound of /s/ when followed by e, i, and y. If the letters a, o, or u follow g and c, you hear the hard sound. This was a big ah-ha moment today with my tutoring student. She had no idea. She quickly rattled off example words to me, so truly, this is good stuff!
Finally, let’s talk about using silent e. Did you know that words in English will never end in the letters j or v. When using the sound of /j/ at the end of a word, it must be spelled with g (followed by e,i, or y) or dge. The cluster, (dge) will only follow short vowels, and dge will ONLY come at the end of a word unless it’s a compound word.
Ambiguous vowels, are vowels other than those influenced by r that are neither long nor short. Students compare words with the same sound, but different patterns. For example, caught, raw, and talk sound the same, but follow different patterns. They also contrast words with the same pattern, but that have different sounds like foot and moon.
- ew, ou, oo-blew, bloom, soup
- oo, ou-book, could
- oy, oi-boy, broil
- ou, ow-bound, brow
- au, aw, all, wa-caught, claw, ball, swab
Again, we do have important talking points to include with this feature. These vowel digraphs or diphthongs cannot be separated. The sounds are stuck together and the two vowels make one NEW sound separate from their individual sound like consonant digraphs.
We also learn that diphthongs tend to follow placement trends. The /ü/ sound is usually spelled with oo and ou in the middle of a word and ew is usually at the end of a word. Likewise, we find the /oi/ sound is usually spelled with oi at the beginning or middle of a word and oy at the end of a syllable or word. Also, /ow/ sound is usually spelled with ou at the beginning or middle of a word and ow in the middle or end of a word, and finally, the /â/ sound is usually spelled with au at the beginning or middle of a word and the aw can come at the beginning, middle or end of a word.
Activities for Within Word Spellers
- Speed Sorts-Use a timer or have your kids race individually or in teams. Remember to have your kids read the words as they place them AND check for accuracy after.
- Partner Sorts-Split the cards between students and have them work together.
- Patterned Sorts-The child puts the key word cards at the top and reads/sorts the words by the pattern.
- No Peek Sort-One child calls the words and the other child sorts. This can be with word cards or by writing.
- Writing Sort-Student writes the word under the pattern after they’re called by an adult or friend.