Teaching spelling: foundation to level 2

​Text

Blabey, A. (2014). Pig the Pug. Scholastic Press, Linfield NSW.

Overview

This series of lessons increase in complexity as the sequence progresses. They are informed by the text, Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey. It is a rhyming story about what happens when Pig the pug refuses to share his toys with Trevor the sausage dog. It is a humorous Australian picture book with vivid illustrations.

It is assumed that students are familiar with this text and that teachers have read the text to students solely for pleasure before the teacher revisits the text for teaching about spelling as outlined in the possible lesson outlines below.

Lesson 1: Sounds representing initial letters (developing phonological and orthographical knowledge) in reading

Victorian Curriculum links:

English, Reading and Viewing, Language: Phonics and word knowledge

Foundation: Recognise the most common sound that each letter represents (VCELA146)

Foundation: Identify some sounds (phonemes) in spoken words (VCELA168)

Theory/practice connections

In this lesson, students’ attention is drawn to phonological knowledge while engaged in reading a picture book. Phonological knowledge is a foundational aspect of learning to spell as young students develop an awareness of the concepts of letters and sounds.

They also learn that certain graphemes represent spoken sounds. Here, students are also encouraged to develop an aspect of phonemic awareness, that is, the ability to hear isolate individual sounds, in this case the initial phoneme in words. These understandings will support students as they decode words in their reading and as they attempt to represent sounds in their writing.

Additional resources

Other picture books highlighting the /p/ phoneme

  • Allen, P. (1999). The Pear in the Pear Tree. Ringwood, Victoria: Viking/Penguin.
  • Fox, M. & Vivas, J. (2004). Possum Magic. Gosford, NSW: Scholastic.

Learning Intentions

We are learning to hear and say the first sound in a word.

We are learning to find the first letter in a word.

We are learning that writers can use letters to write down sounds that they hear.

Success Criteria

I can hear and say the first sound in a word.

I can find the first letter in a word. I can match a letter with a sound.

Role of the Reader

Text decoder – matching sounds to initial letter of words

Group Size 

Whole class, paired activity, and opportunity for teacher to work one-to-one with students.

Lesson Sequence

  1. Clearly articulate the learning intention. Tell students that today we will be listening for a special sound in the story and learning about what letter is used to write that sound down.
  2. Look at the cover of the book. Say title slowly again - Pig the pug - while pointing to the words.  Ask students, what sound can you hear at the start of the word Pig? What sound can you hear at the start of the word pug? What letter can you see?
  3. Ask an individual student to point to first letter of word Pig and pug. Ask, what do you notice? It is the same letter P. In these words, the letter P says /p/.
  4. On poster paper, record the words Pig and pug, underlining or recording the letter ‘p’ in another colour.
  5. Reread the story to students, pointing to words. This time, ask students to listen for other words that start with the /p/ sound. Stop and add these words to the list as you work through the picture book. Talk about the meaning of new words. Draw pictures next to the words, if possible, so the students can ‘read’ them.
    • poor
    • played
    • proceeded
    • pile
    • pigs
    • play
  6. Ask students if they know any other words that start with the sound /p/. Add these to the list. Ask students if anyone has a name starting with P or /p/.  Write it/them on list.
  7. With a partner, ask the students to go on a word hunt. Provide each pair with a sheet of paper on a clipboard and a pencil. Students move around the room, searching for other words on display or in other books that begin with the letter P or the sound /p/. This task could be used to assess student’s ability to identify initial letters in words.
  8. Partners return to whole class group and share list of words. Teachers helps students to read new words and add these to poster. Ask the students if /p/ always make the same sound.
  9. Poster is displayed in the room. Add an extra piece of paper to the bottom of the poster for adding new words in coming days.

Differentiation

Students will require different levels of support in developing phonemic awareness and matching sounds to written symbols. Microscaffolding (helping students at their point of need) can occur during steps 8 and 9, where students can be supported to find words in the classroom and read new words on the chart. 

Pictures can be used to illustrate words on the chart, where possible, to reinforce vocabulary visually.

Lesson 2: Sounds representing initial letters (developing phonological and orthographical knowledge) in interactive writing

Victorian Curriculum link

English, Writing, Language: Phonics and word knowledge

Foundation: Understand that spoken sounds and words can be written and know how to write some high-frequency words and other familiar words including their name (VCELA157)

Theory/practice connections

In this subsequent lesson, the focus shifts to how phonemes or sounds can be represented in writing. Students practise writing the initial letter of words, focusing on the letter P to represent the /p/ sound, as explored earlier in the reading lesson.

The teaching strategy of interactive writing is used here. Interactive writing provides excellent opportunities to explicitly teach the secretarial skill of spelling (as well as reading). “Children become apprentice writers who work alongside an experienced writer – the teacher” (Mackenzie, 2015, p. 36).

Learning Intentions

We are learning to hear, say and write the first letter in a word.

We are learning to write the upper and lower-case letter P.

Success Criteria

I can hear, say and write the first letter in a word.

I can write the lower and upper-case letter P.

Role of the writer

Text encoder - representing sounds in words with letters.

Group Size 

Whole class, or small group (4-6 students).

Lesson Sequence

  1. Reread the picture book aloud to students for pleasure. With subsequent readings, students will join in with more and more of the reading with the teacher as the text becomes more familiar.
  2. Students reread list of words starting with /p/ sound from the previous lesson. Ask individual students to point to the first letter of each word on the list. Ask, What letter is this called?
  3. After a short discussion and with guidance from the teacher, students suggest a sentence they could write about Pig the Pug using some of the list words and new words. For example, Pig the pug played with a pile of pretty pink toys.
  4. Teacher and students write the sentence together. The teacher and each student hold a different coloured texta (or pen on interactive whiteboard). The teacher asks a different student to write the upper or lower-case letter P each time it occurs while the teacher writes the other parts of the words.
  5. While writing, the teacher can do some explicit teaching about listening for and isolating initial sounds and discuss which letter could represent that sound. Students could refer back to list to find words. Some guidance could also be given around handwriting skills such as letter formation and pencil grip.
  6. After each word is added the sentence is read by the group in order to remember which word comes next. When complete the students read the full sentence while the teacher or another child points to the words.
  7. The teacher asks different individual students to find words which begin with the /p/sound and to circle the letter which makes that sound.
  8. The students sign their names at the bottom of the writing in the colour of the texta/pen used. This allows the teacher to return to the text later to assess students’ handwriting and spelling ability.

Differentiation

The teacher can provide individual support at the point of need for each student who shares the pen. This strategy assumes that the teacher knows the strengths and challenges for each student. Small group instruction allows the teacher to select students with like needs.

Lesson 3: Rhyming words (developing phonological and orthographical knowledge)

Victorian Curriculum links

English, Speaking and Listening, Language: Phonics and word knowledge

Foundation: Identify rhyming words, alliteration patterns, syllables and some sounds (phonemes) in spoken words (VCELA168)

Level 1: Manipulate phonemes by addition, deletion and substitution of initial, medial and final phonemes to generate new words (VCELA204)

Theory/practice connections

In this lesson, students enjoy the playful use of rhyming language. Listening to the story provides an excellent opportunity to develop this aspect of phonological awareness as they practise the ability to recognise and learn the concept of rhyme in spoken words.

They explore graphophonical knowledge by looking at different ways of representing the same sounds with graphemes or written letters.

Learning intentions

We are learning that some words in English rhyme, that is, when we say them we hear the same sound at the end of the words.We are learning that the same sound in English can be written using different letters.

Success criteria

I can hear and identify rhyming words when I listen to a story.

I can identify some of the different letter patterns that make the same sounds in written words.

Role of the writer

Text encoder - representing the same sounds in words with different letters

Group size 

Whole class, or small group (4-6 students).

Lesson process

  1. Reread the picture book aloud to students for pleasure.
  2. Return to the first page. Ask students to close their eyes and open their ears and listen for words that rhyme or end with the same sound while you read the text.
  3. After reading ask for students’ responses and list these on a chart.
  4. Repeat with subsequent pages. After a few pages, the chart might look like this: example chart lesson 3
  5. Choose 1-2 lists and brainstorm other words that sound the same. Add these to the list (see words in blue). Ask students to look for patterns. What do you notice about the rhyming words? Discuss that most rhyming words like say/way and pig/wig end with same spelling pattern while Trevor/never are spelled differently but make the same sound. Underline or write the rime of each word in another colour. (Remember the rime is the end part of a syllable including the vowel and any consonants attached, eg, the –ay in say)
  6. Display charts in classroom with an envelope of blank cards attached to the bottom. As students come across other words that rhyme with say/way or pig/wig in their writing and reading they can write each new word on a card and add to relevant list. Lists can be revisited during subsequent lessons to reinforce spelling knowledge or to support reading and writing.
  7. Rhyming words could be written separately onto cards. Use cards to play card games such as Snap or Memory.
  8. In interactive writing, teacher can guide students in spelling new words by using knowledge of rhyming words (this strategy is also known as analogy), that is, the teacher might say, We know how to spell say, so how can we use that to help us spell way?

Differentiation

The spelling patterns that the teacher selects from the picture book are matched to identified needs after assessment of the students’ reading and writing. If this lesson is conducted for a small group of students, teacher can choose students with like needs for targeted teaching.

Lesson 4: Letters and sounds (developing phonological and orthographical knowledge)

Victorian Curriculum links

English, Reading and Viewing, Language: Phonics and word knowledge

Foundation: Blend sounds associated with letters when reading consonant-vowel-consonant words (VCELA147)

Level 1: Understand how to spell one and two syllable words with common letter patterns (VCELA182)

Theory/practice connections

In order to develop phonemic awareness in the early years of school, it is also important to introduce onset-rime activities, both orally and in writing. Onset is the term applied to the initial sound in a single syllable word, while rime refers to the reaming part of the word that contains the vowel and the other letters; for example, in the word play, /pl/ is the onset and /ay/ is the rime.

Onset and rime activities help students to learn that words can be broken into smaller parts. “Being able to break single-syllable words into onset and rime is the starting point for more demanding word analysis and segmentation later” (Westwood, 2008, p.48).

When the students are able to break the words into onset and rime, and remake them, they are then ready to break the words into individual graphemes.

Learning intentions

We are learning that words are made up of smaller units of sounds.

We are learning to stretch out words to hear every sound.

We are learning to represent each sound in a word with a single letter or group of letters.

Success criteria

I can break up a word into smaller sound parts.I can stretch out a word to hear each sound.

I can represent each sound I hear in a word by a single letter or group of letters.

Role of the writer

Text encoder - representing sounds in words with letters Group Size  Whole class, or small group (4-6 students).

Lesson sequence

  1. Reread the picture book aloud to students for pleasure.
  2. Revisit the list of rhyming words from the previous lesson.
  3. Take one group of rhyming words and expand chart by adding extra columns.
  4. Teacher supports the students to separate each word into onset and rime (Column 2) and then to stretch each word out, listening for single sounds or phonemes (Column 3). The students see the repeated pattern ‘ay’ and hear the repeated pattern /ay/ at the end of every word. Some rhyming rimes look and sound the same.
  5. ​ word​ onset and rime​ single phonemes
    ​say​s + ay​s + ay
    ​way​w + ay​w + ay
    ​play​pl + ay​p + l + ay
  6. Students can make words with magnetic letters, using different colours for onset and rime. Play with words, breaking them up and putting them back together while saying sounds, for example, w- ay- says way.
  7. Encourage students to use analogy to move from known word to new word, for example, the teacher says If I know how to spell say then that can help me to spell bay.
  8. Students can make word slides using the given onset and rime. Word slides comprise a card that has the rime written on it. A strip of paper is inserted before the rime which has a letter or letters written on it for the onset. To create words in the same word family, the strip of paper is moved up or down to position new letters in front of the rime.

Differentiation

The spelling patterns that the teacher selects from the picture book are matched to identified needs after assessment of the students’ reading and writing. If this lesson is conducted for a small group of students, teacher can choose students with like needs for targeted teaching.

Lesson 5: Suffixes (developing morphological knowledge)

Victorian Curriculum links

English, Reading and Viewing, Language: Phonics and word knowledge

Level 2: Learn some generalisations for adding suffixes to words (VCELA217)

Theory/practice connections

While it is crucial for writers in the early years to use phonological and graphological knowledge to spell words, they can also use morphological knowledge as well. As suggested by the Overlapping Waves Theory, students are capable of using a range of strategies from a young age, although phonological strategies may be used predominately in the early stages of learning to write (Oakley & Fellowes, 2016, p. 61).

Learning intentions

We are learning to build new words by adding different word endings or suffixes.

We are learning that suffixes can change the form or meaning of a word.

Success Criteria

I can build a new word by adding different endings or suffixes to a base word.

I can describe the different meanings/forms of a word with different endings or suffixes.

Role of the writer

Text encoder: analyzing words according to meaning and pattern

Group Size

Whole class, or small group (4-6 students).

Lesson Sequence

  1. Reread the picture book aloud to students for pleasure.
  2. Draw students’ attention to lines,

  3. 'but it might be more fun,’ said Trevor to Pig,
    ‘if we both played together…'
      

    To revise previous learning, ask students to identify the word that contains /ay/ sound – played

  4. Write word on spoke of word wheel on whiteboard or poster paper. Ask students to find smaller word inside played – write play in centre of word wheel
  5. Ask students to build other words using play as base word and adding other endings. Add these words to word wheel, for example, playing, plays, player. Discuss how endings or suffixes change the form of word from present to past tense or meaning from verb play to noun player – someone who plays.
  6. Students can create own word wheels independently, either in pairs or individually using other base words from text or from the chart from previous lesson. Remember to include irregular verb forms as well, for example, say – said and talk about how whole word changes here to mark past tense. Compare this example to play – played.

Differentiation

The teacher can select base words according to identified needs of students. Teacher might also provide prefixes and suffixes on prepared cards so students can mix and match cards to see if new words can be made. Students can also work in pairs or small groups to allow for support from others.

References

Mackenzie, N. (2015). ‘Interactive writing: a powerful teaching strategy’ in Practical Literacy, 20(3), 36-38.

Westwood, P. (2014). Teaching spelling: exploring commonsense strategies and best practices. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis.

Oakley, G. & Fellowes, J. (2016). A closer look a spelling in the primary classroom. Newtown NSW.: PETAA.